MDLIVE Online Therapy Review

Offering comprehensive, full-service mental health care covered by insurance

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
MDLIVE Logo

MDLIVE

Verywell's Rating
3.6

MDLIVE delivers quality online therapy or psychiatry via a user-friendly platform and a large network of providers. The company also accepts insurance and will submit claims for you, making it easy and convenient to get the care you need in one comprehensive service.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Pay-per-session model

  • Company will submit claims to your insurance company

  • All therapists are licensed and prescribers are board-certified

  • Multiple communication methods available

  • Transparent pricing

  • Can message your therapist anytime in the platform or app

  • Modern, user-friendly, informative website and app

  • Therapist bios posted on website

  • You can choose your therapist or prescriber

Cons
  • No free trial sessions

  • Unclear upfront whether your insurance will cover sessions

  • Video sessions can be glitchy

  • Phone reception can be spotty

Key Facts
Price
$108-$284 per session
Is Insurance Accepted?
Yes
Type Of Therapy
Individual Therapy, Medication Management
Communication Options
Video Chat
HIPPA Compliant?
N/A
Is There an App?
No
Why Trust Us
55
Companies reviewed
5,775
Total users surveyed
350
Data points analyzed
We surveyed 105 users from each online therapy company and asked the companies to complete questionnaires. Then, we tested the services ourselves, conducted comprehensive data collection research, and evaluated our results with the help of three licensed therapists.

If you live in a rural or inner city area, you might have had trouble finding a therapist that meets your needs. And even if you manage to do so, they might be located far away, which would make therapy too inconvenient to keep up. On top of that, many Americans simply cannot afford the out-of-pocket cost of therapy. A May 2022 survey by Verywell Mind found that almost 40% of therapy seekers needed some form of financial assistance to seek therapy.

MDLIVE is trying to change that. As one of the largest telehealth companies in the country, MDLIVE makes psychotherapy and psychiatry more accessible and convenient so even if you live in an area with no clinicians for miles, you can connect with an experienced, credentialed therapist or prescriber via phone or video. The company has also made sessions much more affordable than the national average, which can be up to $200 per session

To assess the quality of the therapy MDLIVE provides, we surveyed 105 users who had used the company, and I signed up for the service to test out some sessions. I also interviewed some therapists that work for the company. Here’s how MDLIVE stacked up against the competition. 

What Is MDLIVE?

Founded in 2009 by Dr. Steve Gurland and Randy Parker, MDLIVE is a telehealth provider of online and on-demand healthcare. Although it began offering therapy in 2010, the company broadened these services in 2014, after it acquired the teletherapy company Breakthrough Behavioral. In 2021, MDLIVE was acquired by Evernorth, a subsidiary of the Cigna Corporation.

Today, patients at MDLIVE benefit from the company’s HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based virtual medical office software platform and national network of licensed therapists and board-certified physicians. Thanks to this service, you can easily find and meet with qualified providers from home.

What Services Does MDLIVE Offer?

MDLIVE offers talk therapy and psychiatry services, plus other types of medical care, including urgent care, primary care, and dermatology. 

Therapy sessions at MDLIVE are generally between 45 and 60 minutes long; psychiatry appointments are 30 minutes for the initial appointment, then 15 minutes for subsequent appointments. 

MDLIVE serves users in all 50 states, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

However, the number of mental health providers does vary by state. For example, the last time we checked, Puerto Rico only had five therapists available and zero psychiatrists. New York, meanwhile, had 24 therapists available, six of which had availability for a session in the next two days, and California had long lists of both therapists and psychiatrists available, though you couldn’t easily find one that offered an appointment less than 4 weeks out. 

Who Is MDLIVE for?

As an interdisciplinary telehealth company with no focus on specialties, MDLIVE is geared towards the general public and addresses many mental health needs, including LGBTQ+ support, anxiety, depression, and the loss of a loved one.

How Much Does MDLIVE Cost?

Pricing through MDLIVE is very straightforward:

  • Therapy costs $108 out-of-pocket
  • Psychiatry appointments cost $284 for the initial psychiatric appointment, then $108 for subsequent appointments

These rates are also the same regardless of where you live, even if the cost of living varies nationwide. 

Of the users we surveyed, sixty-two percent of respondents found MDLIVE’s prices to be very affordable or affordable, while another 32% found them to be somewhat affordable. Only 6% found the prices to be not very affordable or not affordable at all. 

MDLIVE’s standard nationwide pricing stands out against the competition because several other companies do not have one set price for their services. For example, at BetterHelp pricing varies by location and demand—and the company admits to surge pricing during times of high sign-ups.

Does MDLIVE Accept Insurance?

Yes. MDLIVE accepts several insurance plans, which means that you could pay less than the out-of-pocket rates listed above. The company says you could pay as little as $0. 

The insurance providers accepted by MDLIVE include: 

  • Cigna
  • Humana
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Aetna

It also accepts some Medicare and Medicaid plans, which is a big bonus for some therapy seekers as many companies do not. 

You can check whether your insurance provider is accepted during the sign-up process or by calling customer service on the phone. The company will process claims for you, depending on whether you’re in-network. If you’re out of network—as I was—you can still submit your bill to your insurance provider to seek reimbursement.

Of the users we surveyed, 64% indicated that their insurance covered their therapy or psychiatry visits at MDLIVE.

Navigating the MDLIVE Website

When you land on the MDLIVE homepage, you’ll be greeted by the words “fast, hassle-free healthcare”—and to a certain extent, the company delivers on this promise. 

[Screenshot]

MDLIVE

MDLIVE

Its website is user-friendly, attractive, and easy to navigate, with a lot of white space, light colors, large photos, and bold text. To learn about its mental health services, find the “Patients” tab at the top of the page, then click on “Mental Health” in the scroll-down menu.

[Screenshot]

MDLIVE

MDLIVE

The company breaks its FAQs up by type of service, which is handy, especially for such a large company that offers a wide variety of services, including medical healthcare. On the mental health page, you’ll find 10 FAQs answering questions, such as “when are mental health appointments available” and “what is the difference between a therapist and a psychiatrist?”

[Screenshot]

MDLIVE

MDLIVE

The answers to these FAQs appear as pop-ups and are generally about a paragraph long. You will have to click the X to exit the question. 

[Screenshot of a pop-up FAQ answer]

MDLIVE

MDLIVE

Elsewhere on the site, visitors can learn about mental health via articles on its blog

It’s worth pointing out, though, that there is no author byline disclosed on the blog posts so it is unclear who writes these posts and how authoritative they are. And while there are some inline citations to sources, lending credibility, each post also includes numerous orange buttons throughout the post inviting you to “See a doctor” or “Create my account,” which gives the overall tone of the blog more of a marketing vibe, rather than an informational one. 

[Screenshot of blog post showing buttons]

MDLIVE

MDLIVE

There is also no way to search the blog for specific topics, such as mental health. Instead, mental health posts are sprinkled among dermatology and general health posts about posture, cold and flu season, and more. As a result, it’s difficult to gauge who would find the blog worth reading when seeking additional information. 

MDLIVE’s site is also missing a feature that’s nearly ubiquitous among the company’s competitors: a list of crisis hotlines or other databases of local resources. Instead, MDLIVE’s FAQs only instruct the reader to call 911 or seek other medical attention. The lack of additional mental health resources seems like a miss considering nearly all of its competitors post this information.

How Do You Sign Up for Therapy at MDLIVE?

Signing up for MDLIVE is quick and easy. 

To begin, simply click one of the many orange buttons found across the website labeled “See a doctor”, “Schedule Appointment” or “Create my account”—all will lead you to the same account creation process. 

First, you’ll be asked to provide your email, password, and date of birth.  

Next, you’ll be asked to give your name, gender (female, male, or non-binary), and your home zip code.

MD Live 1

Finally, you’ll be asked to enter your insurance provider’s information, if you have insurance. If you don’t have insurance coverage, you can click on the blue words “I don’t have coverage.” 

MD Live 2

You also can skip this question and add your insurance information later, should you want to. However, if you click this option, you’ll be taken to another page that will gently nudge you to provide the information now to avoid being billed the full cost of a visit. 

Skip insurance

Next, it will finalize your account and take you to a private portal, where a popup will have you confirm your location for state licensing requirements. To do this, you’ll be sent an email where you can confirm your information is correct. You will not be able to book an appointment until you confirm your location. 

Once you have your private portal set up, you can add dependents to your account, should you wish to do so. 

Once inside your portal (which gives you access to all of MDLIVE’s services, not just the mental health ones), you will find a collapsable menu on the left rail of the page, where you can schedule appointments, send messages, view your medical records, health profiles, selected pharmacy, and lab results, and update (or add) your health information. You can also reach out to get help and support.

In the “My Health” section of your portal, you’ll be asked to fill out some information about your health history (i.e. whether you’re taking medications, have allergies, or have any existing health conditions), your behavioral health history (including your reason for seeking therapy), lifestyle (such as whether you sleep at least seven hours or smoke), and family history (whether certain health conditions run in your family). 

The process to answer all of these questions make it look extensive, but all in all, it took me about five minutes or so.

Scheduling an Appointment

To schedule your first mental health appointment, you’ll just need to click on the appointment button in the portal menu. 

The site will provide you with several providers that fit your “My Health” parameters. At the top of the page, you’ll see a list of therapists, with specific appointment times for each. Below that, you’ll see a list of therapists requiring you to click on a link to request an appointment time. 

Clicking on a therapist listed will bring you to their profile page, which includes a brief biography along with the states in which they’re licensed, a list of their specialties, and the languages they speak. 

While MDLIVE advertises “fast, hassle-free health care,” as well as appointments within 24 hours, it appears that those guarantees are for its urgent care services and not its behavioral health service. 

For example, I was not able to make a same-day appointment, and options for next-day sessions were also extremely limited. One provider I chose canceled my appointment a few days before our session without sending me an explanation and another never responded to my request for an appointment.

This is likely because, as noted above, the number of therapists in each state—and therefore, the availability of therapy appointments quickly—varies vastly. So you are not guaranteed to get an appointment nearly as quickly as you might be able to get into an urgent care appointment or even a primary care appointment at the company. 

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at MDLIVE?

Once I was finally able to get a therapy appointment, I was sent reminders via email and text ahead of the scheduled appointment time. 

Sessions are held either via a phone call or a video call, depending on your preference and the mode(s) of communication your provider offers. Of the two therapists I tried, the first offered phone only, while the second gave me a choice of video or phone. 

The therapist who preferred phone sessions called my cell at the appointment time. The therapist who offered video calls had me log onto the MDLIVE website. The screen showed me an image of a couch and prompted me to relax and wait (a nice touch) until my therapist showed up. 

In addition to the sessions, you can send your provider(s) messages anytime through your portal. How long your provider takes to respond, though, depends on your particular therapist. You can see the entire conversation thread on your personal portal to help you keep track of all your communication. If you switch therapists, your new practitioner will not be able to see this thread.

Unfortunately, with both my phone and video sessions, I had a few issues. During my phone session, the audio quality was not clear. And during my video session, while the picture was sharp, the screen froze three times, then dropped me early from the session. As a result, my therapist and I never had time to properly close the session. 

Instead, she sent me a message wishing me good luck. This abrupt ending compromised my rapport with my therapist and left me feeling unhappy with the platform’s technology. 

Psychiatry sessions

MDLIVE does offer psychiatry services; however, I did not test this part of the company. According to the website, psychiatrists can diagnose mental health conditions and prescribe and assess medication. These sessions (usually for medication management) are typically 15 to 30 minutes. The scheduling process is the same as with talk therapy–you just need to specify your preferred pharmacy before picking your psychiatrist and scheduling your session.

What Happens If I Miss a Session?

You can cancel an appointment up to 24 hours before your session with no penalty. However, if you miss a session, you will be charged the full amount for that session ($108). You can easily cancel your sessions within the portal. 

Switching Therapists

Since you commit to one session at a time, switching therapists couldn’t be simpler. You don’t even need to let your provider know if you’d rather not continue with them—just choose a different therapist for your next appointment. Unlike traditional therapy, there’s no awkwardness when discontinuing someone. 

The only hassle is that you need to review the information you’ve provided, including your health and behavioral health profiles, to confirm it’s still accurate. That said, since the website stores this information, this doesn’t take very long and once you’ve completed this step, the site shows you a choice of different therapists.

Pausing or Canceling MDLIVE

Since you pay per session, there’s virtually no commitment. This means you can pause or stop therapy at any time. You would only need to cancel a particular session if it was already scheduled. You’ll receive a full refund if you cancel at least 24 hours before your appointment time. 

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

I was impressed by the range and experience of therapists available. Many had years of talk therapy under their belt, and their backgrounds and types of expertise varied. Both therapists I tried were helpful and compassionate–skilled enough that I would consider seeing them regularly—and our survey respondents’ experiences generally lined up with my own. Overall, 30% rated MDLIVE’s service as excellent, 34% very good, 28% good, 8% average, and 1% poor. 

When I interviewed MDLIVE practitioners, I also found them to generally praise the company. 

“I have had a really good experience [working with MDLIVE as a therapist],” says Willard Vaughn, founder, and CEO of The Milieu Therapeutic Services and a licensed counselor. “I have never felt their oversight was overbearing or that I had been misclassified as a 1099 worker. Their rate of reimbursement is also better than any of the other platforms that I have been a part of.” 

He does note, however, that the rate MDLIVE pays its therapists is not negotiable. This means that seasoned providers with years of experience are paid the same as newly licensed therapists—which may affect which therapists are willing to work with the company. 

One of our consultants on this project, therapist Nic Hardy, a licensed therapist, did tell us that he is a bit concerned about MDLIVE’s acquisition by Cigna. “I have questions about the neutrality of a platform that is owned by a major insurance company,” he says. “I would be interested in their system of checks and balances to prioritize the well-being of those served.”

Users were generally impressed by how many of their needs were met. Forty-seven percent said all their needs were met, while 36% said most were met (only 14% said some, 3% not many, and 0% almost none or none). Users were also quite content with the therapist options, with 32% saying very satisfied, 50% satisfied, 13% neutral, and the remaining 5% unsatisfied. However, they were a bit less happy with the process of looking for a therapist, with only 27% saying the experience was very easy, 38% easy, 23% neutral, and the remaining 12% or so difficult.

Privacy Policies

MDLive explains its privacy policies in detail. Overall, it describes how it collects and uses personal information through the use of its website, app, email, text, and other electronic communications. Specifically, it explains which information it collects, how it discloses this information, patient rights regarding their information, data security, deletion request rights, and more. In terms of its disclosure of your information, MDLIVE says it shares it with “a few third parties, among them their affiliates and third-party service providers that they use to support their business.” They do not say that they share this data with third parties for advertising, and they note that they get user consent before sharing information.

MDLIVE vs. Its Competitors

Hardy finds MDLIVE most comparable to Teladoc, another online health care company, “as both companies offer an array of services ranging from medical care to mental health services. Both companies offer similar services and are structured in ways that allow you to access them 24/7,” he explains. 

When comparing MDLIVE to competitors including Teladoc, the company is generally on par when it comes to overall ratings and experiences. For instance, 64% of Verywell Mind survey respondents gave MDLIVE an overall rating of excellent or very good, versus 62% for Amwell, 71% for Doctor On Demand, and 73% for Teladoc. 

As far as therapist qualifications, thirty-one percent of respondents rated MDLIVE practitioners as Excellent versus 32% for Doctor on Demand, 38% for Amwell, and 42% for Teladoc. Perhaps most tellingly, the same percentage of respondents felt all four telehealth providers’ therapists met “all” their needs versus 47% for MDLIVE, 48% for Teladoc and Amwell, and 49% for Doctor on Demand. 


That said, if you’re looking for value for your money, know that respondents gave their votes to Amwell and Teladoc. Sixty-five percent of respondents described Amwell’s value for the money as excellent or very good, versus 59% for Teladoc, and 51% for both MDLIVE and Doctor on Demand.  

Final Verdict

Overall, I would use MDLive again–for mental health, psychiatry, or other types of medical care. I appreciated the convenient user experience, especially the attractive and well-designed website and quick access to behavioral health specialists. I also found the practitioners to be experienced and professional. Already, I’ve recommended the site to numerous friends and family. 

Hardy agrees that telehealth providers, like MDLIVE, are worthwhile. “MDLIVE gives individuals greater access to health care,” he says, ”, especially for those who have transportation barriers or live in areas with limited service providers.” He also sees a place for this type of service for patients requiring chronic care management, since an online platform “offers consistency and limits extended gaps between check-ups.” 

Methodology

To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 55 companies and surveyed 105 current users of each. This allowed us to directly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and its users’ experiences.

Specifically, we evaluated each company on the following factors: website usability, the sign-up, and therapist matching processes, therapist qualifications, types of therapy offered, the service's quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, average cost and value for money, whether it accepts insurance, how easy it is to change therapists, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood that clients would recommend them.

We also signed up for the companies to get a sense of how this process worked, how easy to use the platform is, and how therapy takes place at the company. Then, we checked Glassdoor reviews from therapists who currently work or have worked for this company. Plus, we spoke with a current MDLIVE provider, plus got an expert take on the site from a practicing psychotherapist. 

Read our full methodology here.

By Dina Cheney
Dina Cheney is a health writer and the author of six books.

Edited by
Simone Scully
simone-scully-verywell

Simone is the health editorial director for performance marketing at Verywell. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering mental health, chronic conditions, medicine, and science.

Learn about our editorial process
and
Hannah Owens
Hannah Owens

Hannah Owens is the Mental Health/General Health Editor for performance marketing at Verywell. She is a licensed social worker with clinical experience in community mental health.

Learn about our editorial process