PlushCare Online Therapy Review

Virtual mental health and primary care treatment whenever you need it

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Plushcare Online Therapy

Plushcare Online Therapy

Verywell's Rating
3.4

PlushCare is a telemedicine company that not only offers health care, but medication management and mental health services as well. The platform is easy to use but there are quite a few limitations when it comes to interacting with your therapist. PlushCare’s prices are on the higher side compared to its competitors, and the company does not currently accept insurance for therapy services.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • You can choose your therapist

  • All therapists are licensed

  • Easy to navigate website/mobile app

  • You can see therapists' bios

  • Free 15-minute introduction call

  • Full sessions are 45 minutes

  • Responsive customer care team

  • Serves all 50 states

Cons
  • Therapist choices might be limited based on where you live

  • No way to directly contact your therapist outside of sessions

  • No message-based therapy sessions

  • Cannot prescribe some controlled medications

  • Insurance not accepted for mental health services

Key Facts
Price
$169 for a single 45-minute session or $149 for weekly sessions, billed all at once
Is Insurance Accepted?
No. In some states (with a PlushCare doctor referral)
Type Of Therapy
Individual Therapy, Medication Management
Communication Options
Audio, Video Chat
HIPAA Compliant?
N/A
Is There an App?
Yes
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.

In the United States, over 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their life, while one in five experience a mental health condition in any given year. Additionally, one in 25 Americans are living with more severe mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. These statistics are particularly concerning given the fact that for many, access to mental health care is limited, especially if you happen to live in a therapy desert, an area with little to no mental health care available, such as rural areas. 

This is where telehealth companies like PlushCare come in. In an attempt to put those services to the test, Verywell Mind surveyed 105 users of PlushCare. I also tested the services myself and conducted my own research to see what the company had to offer therapy seekers.

What Is PlushCare?

Launched in 2015, PlushCare is the brainchild of entrepreneur Ryan McQuaid and his friend James Wantuck, MD. The vision was to create an online platform that offered high-quality health care that was convenient, accessible, and affordable. Since its launch, the company has done a good job of staying true to its mission. In 2021, PlushCare was purchased by health tech company Accolade.

According to the website, talking to a therapist or primary care doctor online has never been easier or more affordable. PlushCare provides care in all 50 states and is in-network with several major insurers. (Though keep in mind that it doesn’t accept insurance for mental health services.)

What Services Does PlushCare Offer?

Arriving on the website, it initially appeared to me that PlushCare focused more on offering physical health services, including seeing a primary care physician, getting treated for urgent medical issues, or checking in with a medical expert. However, after spending time looking around, I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. 

PlushCare does provide mental health services in the form of talk therapy and medication management. And if you’re looking for it, you’ll find that the company’s website is filled with information on mental health issues via its FAQ section and its blog. 

Plus, if you’re in need of medication for mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, you will be able to get a prescription. In order to do so, your therapist can refer you to one of PlushCare’s primary care physicians or you can book a consultation yourself. 

It is important to note, though, that the company specifies it will refer you to “a board-certified doctor” for medication, rather than a psychiatrist. Though 80% of people who take antidepressants were prescribed them by their primary care physician, we recommend seeing a psychiatrist instead if possible.

At PlushCare, primary care physicians are able to provide most psychiatric medications, with the exception of controlled substances, like Xanax (alprazolam) or Adderall (amphetamine).

Who Is PlushCare For?

If you’re dealing with the following mental health issues, PlushCare’s platform could be right for you:

  • Mild-to-moderate anxiety
  • Mild-to-moderate depression
  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Relationship issues
  • Mood and mood disorders
  • Self-esteem
  • LGBTQIA+ related issues
  • Bullying
  • Spiritual and faith issues

If you’re looking to have therapy sessions with a psychiatrist, you’re on a budget, or would prefer a therapy service that works with your insurance, then PlushCare might not be for you. 

When compared to similar platforms, PlushCare is less affordable, and since the company does not accept insurance for its mental health services, the cost will add up pretty quickly. 

If you require medication for more severe mental health issues, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, you will want to look elsewhere because, PlushCare doesn’t offer restricted medications. And while PlushCare does say it treats ADHD, the site’s doctors can’t write prescriptions for many of the medications used for treatment. This includes Adderall and Ritalin. 

However, the site does note that its doctors can prescribe non-stimulant medications “such as Strattera, its generic version atomoxetine, guanfacine, and bupropion, which can all be prescribed online if a patient qualifies after a medication consultation.”

Finally, PlushCare is not an emergency service and should not be used as such. For people who are in crisis or currently dealing with suicidal thoughts, there are more helpful resources available, such as the crisis line 988.

How Much Does PlushCare Cost?

When signing up for PlushCare, you’ll see there are two prices. You’ll pay a membership subscription cost of $14.99 monthly and then you’ll also pay for each session you book. At the time of this review, each therapy session was $169 without insurance. 

When surveyed, 58% of users said the cost was affordable and 75% of users felt they got value for their money.That said, what may seem affordable to the average PlushCare user might not be affordable to other therapy seekers, especially given the cost of monthly membership and individual sessions.

According to the Census Bureau, the median U.S. household income in 2021 was $70,784. Based on the data we’ve collected, only 13% of PlushCare users had a household income close to (or below) that figure. Most PlushCare users made more: 21% had annual incomes between $75,000 and $99,000, 36% had incomes between $100,000 and $199,999, and 8% had incomes over $200,000.

Does PlushCare Take Insurance?

PlushCare does not accept insurance for its mental health services. Since therapy seekers aren’t able to use insurance, that means the full cost of care will be out-of-pocket, and that might not be as affordable over a long-term period for many.

Does PlushCare Offer Discounts?

PlushCare currently offers a free trial, which lasts for a month. As for special rates, if you book weekly sessions, the cost drops from $169 to $149, which is billed every four weeks. You also have the option of booking a free 15-minute call with a therapist before committing to a full session.

Navigating the PlushCare Website

PlushCare’s website is well-designed, modern, and super easy to navigate. On the homepage, you’ll be greeted by a woman with a welcoming smile along with the words: “Healthcare that makes you smile.” 

Homepage

As you scroll, you’ll see the words: “Care for you, and the ones you love most” along with quick summaries of the company’s offerings. These summaries also boast how easy it is to sign up for and use the platform, along with the affordability of its medical services.

In the navigation bar, you’ll see several options, including Mental Health. Clicking this will take you to the mental health section of the site. There you can find information about the issues you may be struggling with via PlushCare’s blog and other informational pages. One thing to note: the link to the FAQ page is located all the way at the bottom of the homepage in the footer and could be easy to miss.

FAQs

When asked how they found navigating the website, 69% of PlushCare users we surveyed said the experience was very easy or easy. On the other hand, 3% of surveyed users experienced some level of difficulty while trying to navigate the website.

PlushCare also has a presence on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. While the company doesn’t have a massive following on social media, with just over 2,500 followers on Instagram, 1,340 on Twitter, and 8,850 on Facebook, PlushCare does a good job at regularly updating its pages and engaging with its community. For example, on Instagram, PlushCare uploads content, including wellness tips, every few days. 

Does PlushCare Have An App?

PlushCare does have a mobile app and it’s as easy (if not easier) to navigate as the website itself. The app allows you to quickly and easily view all the information on the site while on the go. You can see your upcoming appointments, book new appointments, and message directly with the PlushCare team. 

There still no option to chat directly with your therapist, but if you are using PlushCare for primary care or medication management, you can chat with nurses via the app. The nurses will answer questions about your labs, medication interactions, and general symptoms.

The app is created by PlushCare Inc. and available for download on your smartphone via the Apple App Store for iOS users and Google Play Store for Android users.

How Do You Sign Up for Therapy at PlushCare?

I found signing up for therapy on PlushCare’s platform to be simple, and 77% of surveyed users agreed, calling it very easy or easy. While on PlushCare’s homepage, you’ll see “Mental Health” in the top navigation bar. When you click, you’ll be taken to the mental health section of the site. 

Mental health tab

There, you’ll see a yellow button with the words “Book Now.” You can click that button and follow the steps, which include inputting your location, choosing your therapist, and booking either a 15-minute introductory call or a full 45-minute session. When you click “Book,” you’ll be prompted to create a profile.

profile

If you’d prefer to create your profile first, you can click the “Sign In” button in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll be asked for a username and password. As a new user, you don’t have that so you’ll need to create one. Below the login field, you’ll see “Create Account,” and clicking that will take you to the same page to create your profile.

The company doesn’t ask any questions regarding why you’re seeking therapy, nor does it provide a questionnaire to better understand your mental health needs. Instead, profile questions include your full name, biological sex, and date of birth, along with your email address and desired password. Later, you can add more information to your profile.

PlushCare doesn’t match you to a therapist like some other online therapy services, which makes it feel more like an online directory. This puts the company at a disadvantage compared to many of the other services we reviewed, including Talkspace and Two Chairs, that do take the time to better understand your needs, why you’re seeking therapy, and what you’re looking for in a therapist. 

Choosing a Therapist at PlushCare

When you’re choosing your therapist, PlushCare asks for your location. Once you select your state from the drop-down menu, you’ll see a list of therapists available to you. From there, you can view their profiles, which include educational background and areas of expertise. 

bio

After you’ve found your ideal therapist, you can book a 15-minute introductory session for free or a full 45-min session for $169.

When you book your session, you will see that session, and any other sessions you’ve booked, on your dashboard. Your dashboard also has your prescriptions and your primary care doctor, if you’re also using PlushCare for that service.

One major thing that is missing on the dashboard is an option to contact your therapist outside of sessions. After one of my sessions, I asked the therapist about this and she said that it was a common complaint among her patients. If you do need to get in touch with your therapist, you will need to reach out to the site’s regular help/support channels.

This feels like a drawback. Hannah Owens, LMSW and Mental Health Editor for Verywell Mind, agrees. “Not being able to contact your therapist directly—for example, about rescheduling an appointment—can make things more complicated, since you have to trust the company as a middleman.”

“Additionally,” Owens adds, “without a way to contact your therapist, you're unable to reach out if you need extra support in between sessions, which could leave a client feeling desperate or abandoned.”

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at PlushCare?

All of PlushCare’s therapy sessions take place over video calls. On the day of your session, you’ll receive an email reminder from the PlushCare customer service team. The email contains relevant information, including the time of your session, the name of your therapist, and how to join the video call.

Video Sessions

When you log into the website or app, you’ll see a “Join Video Chat” option. You’ll also have the option to check your mic and camera functionality before the session begins. Once you click the join button, you’ll be connected to the video chat. If you’re early, you’ll see text on the screen letting you know you’re in the right place and that your therapist will join shortly.

While waiting for your therapist, much like a FaceTime call, you’ll see yourself in a tiny window while the rest of the screen is blank until your therapist arrives. You’ll also see three buttons on the screen: Camera ON/OFF, Mic ON/OFF, and Leave Chat. If you’d prefer not to be on camera, you can ask your therapist to keep your camera off. But note that the therapist’s camera will still be on because they don’t have the option to turn their camera off, according to one of the therapists I spoke to while testing the service.

During my sessions, the therapists arrived on time. They both spent time introducing themselves and explaining a bit about their overall approach to therapy and how they help their clients reach desired goals. The therapists also asked the standard “What brings you to therapy?” question, which kind of felt like they were following an introduction script. 

However, that quickly changed when I started talking about the reason I was seeking therapy. The interaction began to feel less scripted and conversation flowed more naturally. Both therapists I saw on the platform were attentive, offering feedback and asking questions where they saw fit. 

One therapist also gave homework in the form of journal entries, which she said we would discuss in our next session. She suggested the next time I felt triggered, I should take a moment to channel my younger self and write the journal entry through her eyes. Then she suggested I write a second entry from the adult version of myself as a response to the younger version. 

While it initially sounded silly, especially after she suggested I use my non-dominant hand to write as little Stephanie, it was actually helpful. The exercise was challenging but it brought clarity and logic to my anxious and panicked thoughts of abandonment or whatever else I was experiencing in the moment.

Based on my experiences, I do feel like the therapists on PlushCare genuinely care about their patients.

There was one session where the therapist had issues connecting to the video chat. She joined the video chat on time, she said hello, and then we couldn’t seem to hear each other. She disconnected and I waited, thinking she would rejoin, but I later received an email from the PlushCare team, which explained that the therapist was having connectivity issues and that I would need to reschedule the session. You can typically reschedule the session in the same way you booked the initial session or you can respond to the email to have an agent reschedule the session for you.

Medication Management/Psychiatry

If you need a prescription for medication, it can be written by one of PlushCare’s primary care doctors. According to the website, your therapist can either refer you or you can book a consultation yourself and discuss your needs. These medication appointments will be covered by your insurance, but will cost $129 for the same 15-minute session without insurance.

What Happens If I Miss a Session at PlushCare? 

After booking a therapy session, you have the option to cancel up to two hours before the session. If you miss that window, there will be a $50 charge to reschedule. 

The process to reschedule can feel annoying. You reschedule your appointment the same way you book an appointment, and you’ll be asked to pay for the new appointment. When you book a session, PlushCare puts a hold for the amount on your card. If the session happens without issues then you’ll be charged. If the session doesn’t happen and you need to reschedule, you’ll have to book an entirely new session. 

This means you’ll now see two holds for $169 on your card. The first hold, which is for the session that didn’t happen, will automatically be reversed within a few business days. But this isn’t ideal.

Switching Therapists at PlushCare

If you decide you’re not happy with your therapist or simply want to try another therapist, it’s super easy to switch. Instead of booking your usual therapist for a session, you just follow the same process and book a new therapist instead. 

While booking myself, I ran into a weird issue where the site wouldn’t allow me to complete the switch, even after trying multiple times. I waited a few hours and tried again and finally, I was successfully able to schedule an appointment with a new therapist. It’s possible the site had a small glitch but it didn’t last very long and resolved itself.

The switch is immediate and you’ll be able to see your new therapist during the time slot you selected.

Pausing or Cancelling Therapy at PlushCare

In order to end your relationship with PlushCare, you need to stop booking sessions and cancel your membership. You can cancel your membership by logging into your account, clicking on your name to open a drop-down menu, selecting your user profile, then the Payment and Insurance section. There, you will see a cancel button. Click it and the cancellation is immediate.

You’ll need to cancel before your next billing cycle. If your membership started on the 17th of the month, you’ll need to cancel before the 17th of the following month to prevent being charged again.

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

When stacked against competitors, PlushCare looks like a small fish in a big pond, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t making waves. “PlushCare does not have the wide reach that many other telehealth companies, such as Teladoc and MDLIVE, have,” says Owens. “Rather than having a network of thousands of providers, PlushCare's website states that it has over 100 practitioners, and that's including primary care, not just mental health.”

Still, PlushCare’s site shows reviews of many, many satisfied patients and our own user data shows that PlushCare users are generally satisfied with the service.

About 75% of users said they had positive experiences using PlushCare and 71% said they would recommend the service to others.

However, there is room for improvement with PlushCare. The company should definitely consider adding new ways to have therapy sessions, like a voice-only option or even a text option. PlushCare could also implement a way to interact with therapists outside of sessions, which would bring a more personal feel to the experience.

After testing the service, I genuinely connected with one therapist more than the other and felt she could be helpful in meeting my therapy needs. Because of the limitations mentioned above, if I could see her off the platform, that would be my ideal, but I may still continue sessions with PlushCare in order to keep seeing this particular therapist.

Similarly, when asked about their own therapy needs, 81% of our surveyed users said all or most of their needs were met by their providers, while 17% said some of their needs were met by their PlushCare therapist.

Privacy Policies at PlushCare

PlushCare is HIPAA-compliant and implements security measures to protect your privacy and the personal data you’ve shared on the site. It uses a firewall along with data encryption. 

You have the option of accessing your medical history. In order to do so, you’ll be required to sign a release form and your records can then be sent to your or another medical professional.

It is worth noting that while PlushCare takes the necessary steps to protect your data and identify from hackers or any unauthorized access, you are not entirely anonymous. PlushCare is aware of who you are and actually attempts to confirm your identity before allowing you to utilize its services.

PlushCare vs. Its Competitors 

There are countless telehealth companies offering virtual therapy and other health services. All of these companies are focused on a similar goal, and that is to bring health and wellness services to those who may not be able to access it otherwise or those who are looking for more convenience when it comes to seeing their therapists and primary care doctors. However, there are also several differences between these companies.

Like PlushCare, Teladoc offers users the option to see qualified therapists but, unlike PlushCare, Teladoc also has a number of psychiatrists on its roster. If you need medication for your mental health issues while using PlushCare, those prescriptions will have to be written by one of the company’s primary care doctors. You’ll be required to book a separate session on your own or you can ask your therapist for a referral. Teladoc’s psychiatrists can prescribe you medication, with the exception of certain controlled substances.

Both companies accept insurance for visits with primary care doctors but only Teladoc accepts insurance for its mental health offerings. Teladoc also accepts PayPal, while PlushCare only accepts payment by credit card.

When it comes to user experience, Teladoc received an overall rating of 97% from the users we surveyed, while PlushCare had 75% of users saying their overall experience was positive. 

Both Teladoc and PlushCare have modern and easy-to-navigate websites, but users found Teladoc’s website to be a lot easier to use, with 82% saying it was very easy or easy to navigate. PlushCare received a score of 69% for its website navigation ease of use. 

As for the actual therapy sessions, 81% of PlushCare users said they were satisfied with their therapists and walked away feeling most of or all of their needs were met; 80% of Teladoc’s users said the same. Finally, overall satisfaction with therapy services was 83% for Teladoc and 71% for PlushCare. When asked if they would recommend the service, 86% of users said they would recommend Teladoc, while 80% of PlushCare users echoed the same.

Overall, though, when asked how PlushCare compared to any other service they'd tried before, only 68% of PlushCare users rated the company as better or much better than services they’ve used in the past. This was lower than the average that said the same at all 54 other companies we reviewed.

Final Verdict

If you like the idea of having a one-stop destination online for all your health needs, then PlushCare might be for you. The membership will make it easy for you to quickly book an appointment with either a primary care doctor or a mental health expert for talk therapy. 

“Therapy seekers who need virtual sessions—both talk therapy and medication management—would benefit from PlushCare's remote care,” Owens says. However, PlushCare is a bit on the pricier side, so it might not be accessible to everyone.

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 in order to get a sense of how this process worked, how easy to use the platform is, and how therapy takes place at the company.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About mental health.

  2. Barkil-Oteo A. Collaborative care for depression in primary care: how psychiatry could “troubleshoot” current treatments and practices. Yale J Biol Med. 2013;86(2):139-146.

  3. United States Census Bureau. Income in the United States: 2021.

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