Christine [00:00:02] What people don’t always think about or don’t realize is that even if you don’t take insurance, that doesn’t mean your clients can’t use their insurance benefits to help cover part of the costs. A lot of people have what’s called out-of-network benefits, where they’re able to actually get reimbursed up to 80% of the cost of a therapy session once they meet their deductible.
Linzy [00:00:28] Welcome to the Money Skills for Therapists podcast, where we answer this question: How can therapists and health practitioners go from money shame and confusion, to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham, therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills for Therapists. Hello and welcome back to the podcast. So today on the podcast we have Christine Li. Christine Li is not a therapist and she’s not a financial professional either. She’s the founder and CEO of Mentaya. Christine is an advocate for mental health. Growing up, she witnessed many of her friends fall victim to teen suicide and saw the impacts that mental health was having on the lives of the people around her. When she stepped out of her work at Google, she thought about becoming a therapist, but then thought maybe she could use her tech skills to support therapists who she’s always seen as making the world better. And she saw that while so many companies were spending their tech know-how to make therapy cheaper at the expense of therapists, none of them were actually doing anything that made therapists’ lives better. So she went about a mission of trying to create tech that actually improves the work that we do as therapists. And I think she’s been really successful. Today on our episode, Christine and I talked about how therapists can be very black and white in the way that they think about insurance in the United States. It’s like you’re either an insurance therapist who’s on insurance or you’re an out-of-pocket, maybe a premium fee therapist who’s not and has nothing to do with insurance. And we talked today about how there’s this huge gray area in between where we can support clients, even if you are not taking insurance, through helping them to understand and use their out-of-network. And Mentaya’s thing is making that as painless for clients and therapists as possible. We talk about the benefits that your clients may have through their out-of-network benefits that many of us don’t even know about, and that, hey, American therapists who are listening, you yourself might even have out-of-network benefits that you don’t realize that you have, that could get you reimbursed for health care that you’re accessing. And we also talk about just the benefit as private practice owners of making insurance easier for your clients. This is so often something that our clients, if they’re having to navigate insurance through like super bills and dealing with insurance companies, that’s really stressful for them as well. And we talked about how you as a private practice owner and a business owner, it’s beneficial for you and your clients when you also help them make it that part of your financial relationship easier. Here is my conversation with Christine Li. So, Christine, welcome to the podcast.
Christine [00:03:27] Thank you so much for having me.
Linzy [00:03:29] I’m really excited to have you here because, you know, I know part of what we’re going to chat about today is therapists and insurance. And you are someone who helps with this kind of like puzzle or challenge that therapists have with insurance. But you are not a therapist.
Christine [00:03:44] No.
Linzy [00:03:45] Yes, I’m excited about that because I feel like you’re going to have like a different perspective, you know, like those of us who are in the therapist’s world are so, like, soaked in certain ways of thinking about these things. But you are someone who’s kind of come from outside of the space to help us with this challenge. So I’m sure you probably have some, like different ways of looking or thinking about these things, having worked with therapists, that we might not see.
Christine [00:04:08] No, for sure, I mean, I think it’s sometimes really useful too, because when you’re in a, you know, you’re surrounded by people who are all thinking similarly and you have been educated and trained to think in certain ways that it’s sometimes helpful to have an outside perspective, like you said.
Linzy [00:04:21] Yeah, absolutely. So thinking then about therapists and insurance, what have you seen from the folks that you work with at Mentaya that you support at Mentaya? Why do you see therapists really grappling with insurance and if they should take insurance? What have you noticed about that relationship?
Christine [00:04:38] I have talked to, I don’t know, hundreds, I think, up there, because at this point I wanted to become a therapist myself at some point. I still do, I think, later on. But one thing that I was really surprised by is this discomfort with money almost, where it’s almost like because you want to help people, there’s- I don’t know if it’s shame or discomfort around like wanting to pay yourself a lot and wanting to- like everyone wants to make a great living and be financially free. But also there’s this like problem of accessibility. Obviously, as a therapist, you want to be accessible to more than just people who can afford a certain rate. And so I think that’s where a lot of the difficulty of, you know, do I take insurance to try to be a little bit more accessible or do I do private pay and sort of prioritize my own needs and, you know, financial freedom for myself? And so I think that’s sort of the problem I hear a lot of therapists grappling with.
Linzy [00:05:38] Yeah, I think, like we often see those things as like an opposition, right? It’s like I’m either helping other people, but then I’m not going to be able to make very much money. But that’s like kind of I’m mission-oriented or I have to think about my own financial needs and I’m going to have to make these tough decisions and prioritize myself instead of my clients.
Christine [00:05:57] Yeah, I think that’s the that’s like a very prevalent way of thinking, I think from what I’ve heard from therapists. But it doesn’t it doesn’t have to be it. I mean, it sucks to have to be able to pick between like I make a great living for myself versus I’m accessible to people. And that’s a big thing of what we’re trying to bridge with Mentaya.
Linzy [00:06:15] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because I think people see insurance is, you know, the way for and I will say American therapist because I’m in Canada it’s different here but it is I think the way like insurance equals accessible is kind of like the, the way that, that we tend to think about it and that if you’re not on insurance then you’re not accessible.
Christine [00:06:33] That’s yeah, that’s definitely what I’ve heard from a lot of therapists. I think what people don’t always think about or don’t realize is that even if you don’t take insurance, that doesn’t mean your clients can’t use their insurance benefits to cover part of the costs. A lot of people have what’s called out-of-network benefits, and they’re able to actually get reimbursed up to 80% of the cost of of therapy sessions once they meet their deductible. And a lot of therapists either don’t realize or they kind of know, but they’re like, oh, my clients will handle it. Yeah. So you’re really making the decision and thinking to yourself, Do I take insurance? Do I not? That’s not really factored in. And on top of that, one thing that I think I heard recently from a therapist is, oh, because I’m able to, you know, charge my full rate, I don’t take insurance. I can do a few pro-bono cases or charge very, very little for people who don’t even have insurance. And so you can serve different types of populations if you don’t take insurance as well. And I don’t think that’s something that people really think about.
Linzy [00:07:33] Right. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So this this piece, this out of networks benefits is important because I know, having worked with therapists over the last five years, teaching Money Skills for Therapists and not being American myself, it’s like I’ve kind of heard like, whispers of like, well, there’s like, out-of-network benefits and like, super bills. I’ve heard these words. I have a sense now of what they mean. But what you just said is something that is new information that I think bears repeating, that many people, if they have out-of-network benefits, you’re saying they can get reimbursed for like 80% of seeing you, even if you’re not on insurance, if they have out-of-network benefits? Can you talk like more about how common that is? Like, how much can we assume that folks have this kind of coverage?
Christine [00:08:16] Yeah, so it really depends on the person. What we do know is most people have out-of-network benefits. They usually have to meet some sort of deductible, whether it’s $500, $1000, even a couple of thousand, which might sound high, but that’s only, you know, a dozen therapy sessions and you’re able to make it deductible. And then after that, they can actually get reimbursed up to 80%. We’ve seen, I think, as high as 90%. But sometimes it’s on average, we’ve seen closer to, you know, 60 to 70% reimbursement. But that’s still- I don’t, you know, I don’t know how much you’re charging in Canada and the U.S., I’m in San Francisco. And so it’s, first of all, impossible to find a therapist who takes insurance here because the cost of living is so high. And so most therapists charge $200, $250 a session and people are able to get over $100 back per session with their out-of-network benefits. And most people have them. Most people don’t know they have them because, you know, the US health care system is not designed to be particularly consumer friendly.
Linzy [00:09:16] What? I have only heard good things. No. Yeah, absolutely. So it’s like it might be even that somebody that you’re talking to on the phone, like let’s say that you don’t take insurance or you don’t take a certain insurance and you’re talking to somebody on the phone. So it’s possible that a potential client might even have some coverage for you. Like what I’m hearing is once they meet their deductible, which is going to vary, they might have coverage for you that they don’t even know about because they think that they can only see a therapist who is like in their network.
Christine [00:09:44] Yeah, because if you think about it from, you know, the average person, consumers perspective, most other services you go to like you go to your PCP or your gynecologist or whatever doctor, a lot of doctors take insurance because, you know, they’ve been able to somehow negotiate rates high enough to make that sustainable for themselves. And so it’s there is no real understanding of out of network because you’re like, okay, either they take insurance, I give them my insurance card and then I don’t really know what happens in back office for doctor’s offices. But I just get my co-pay and that’s it. So that’s people’s impression of, you know, taking insurance and that if you don’t take insurance and you say, oh, I’m cash pay, you know, you pay my full rate, people are like, okay, I either find a therapist who takes insurance, which is, you know, can be difficult to find. Or I just have to pay someone’s full cash rate. There’s not a real understanding of, oh, there’s something in between where you can pay their full cash rate and then get reimbursed afterwards. You have to submit claims to insurance. You have to understand your insurance benefits. It’s kind of complicated, which is why most people don’t know about it.
Linzy [00:10:46] Yeah, because, like, I’m so used to hearing folks talk about this in black and white terms, unlike in in the therapy world, in our little kind of goldfish bowl. And that, you know, I occupy with some other folks. There’s a lot of debate and I think I’d like a lot kind of like black and white of like take insurance or don’t take insurance, right? Like you’re full fee or your premium, or you like, take insurance, but you’re not going to get paid well. And it’s kind of like people feel like they have to pick one of those routes. Am I going to be like service based and I get paid well, but that’s worth it? Or am I going to like, be out of pocket and only be able to serve people a certain income bracket? It’s black and white. What I’m hearing from you is there’s this like big gray area in the middle that I think most people don’t know about.
Christine [00:11:28] Yeah, a lot of people don’t necessarily think about that because, I mean, as a therapist, I’m sure a lot of therapists have heard of the concept of super bills. I think a lot of therapists who are private pay in insurance or don’t take, you know, all insurances, they only take some they have some concept of a super bill. It’s like, Oh, I can just give you this bill. And, you know, you have to figure it out yourself.
Linzy [00:11:49] You deal with it. Exactly.
Christine [00:11:51] Which, you know, I guess because obviously if you’re not taking insurance, you don’t want to deal with insurance. And so you’re like, all right, here’s some bill. Hey, client, go figure it out yourself. Yeah, but the average client is not going to understand how to even see if they have these benefits, how to even submit super bills. I have so many friends since I’ve started Mentaya that I’ve been telling about, like, Hey, you have out-of-network benefits. You can submit super bills. And they’re like, What is that? Or like, I think my therapist gave me some sort of super bill, but I don’t know what to do with it. Yeah, I think there is this lack of almost education around this whole.
Linzy [00:12:22] Yeah, absolutely. That’s what I was thinking is like there’s lack of education from consumers, like in which in our case we were call clients. Our clients don’t know about it, but also therapists don’t know about it in terms of like just how robust this benefit can be for the clients that they’re serving, even if you don’t take their insurance.
Christine [00:12:40] Yeah. So I think the first step is just the educational component. Most people don’t even know they have out-of-network benefits. You have to call your insurance company, okay? You have to ask certain questions. You get transferred around, sometimes the call drops. And so a lot of people even don’t even get to that step, whether they don’t want to call their insurance company because it’s not pleasant for anyone.
Linzy [00:13:00] Whatever it is, it’s calling your insurance company. Yeah.
Christine [00:13:03] Or they try and they’re like, I’m kind of confused. Or like, I kept getting switched around and I don’t really understand it. Yeah. And so the first part is just really the educational component on helping people even understand that the insurance benefits you’re paying for or that your company’s paying or allow you to actually get reimbursed for therapy. So that’s kind of the first part of even just. Letting people know.
Linzy [00:13:25] Yes. Right. And that’s for a consumer perspective. And I’m thinking for therapists who are listening, that’s going to apply to your clients. But it might also apply to you. Like if you are covered by a spouse’s insurance, you might even yourself have out-of-network benefits you could be using that you don’t know about.
Christine [00:13:40] Yes, exactly. I think a lot of people just- it’s even harder, actually, if you’re covered by your spouse, to figure out what your benefits are, and all that, because it’s- you’re not the primary insurer now.
Linzy [00:13:50] You can’t pick up the phone and call. Yeah. Now there’s a middle person and your spouse. Okay. Yeah. So there’s this education piece that, like people just don’t even know about this. So, you know, I’m hoping folks who are listening today, if this is new for you, I hope that you’re like taking it in. And I’m hearing the next step is to actually look into your individual insurance and see like, do I have this coverage? What does this coverage look like for me?
Christine [00:14:11] Yes, And especially as a therapist, if your clients don’t know, I think a lot of therapists are like, oh, you can call your insurance. You know, I don’t know. Figure it out yourself. Yeah. Which puts the onus on the client, which is, you know, totally fair. But if you think about it from sort of a business person.
Linzy [00:14:26] Yeah. Yeah.
Christine [00:14:27] As a therapist, you really should be incentivized to help your clients understand if they they have these benefits. But when you say like, Hey, my fee is 200 a session, there’s going to be some clients who are like, Oh, I don’t know that’s kind of expensive, that much, you know, every week for a year is a long time. It’s a lot of money. Sure. But if you say, hey, my fee is 200, but you might have these out-of-network benefits that allow you to get reimbursed for a portion of my cost. You know, I can check it for you and tell you what they are that can help you just convert a client who otherwise might have been like, No, thank you. And then that helps you grow your business.
Linzy [00:15:05] Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Because I see it as like it’s a way that you can extend the service that you’re offering and make it really clear to somebody like this is going to be easy by you having that information. So, so for that then, like what options do therapists have that to, like have a tool to help with this piece or outsource this piece? How as a therapist, if you are not part of an insurance company, if you’re not paneled or if your panel was, say, one insurance company, but you know, the people come with other insurances, how can you get this information?
Christine [00:15:33] Yeah, there’s a few different ways, depending on how much work and time you want to put into this. One way, if you have a lot of time and you’re willing to deal with insurances, you can just call yourself. You can be like, Hey, give me your insurance card. Yes, I’ll for you and tell you if you have these benefits and then call insurance, loopback around with your client, be like, Hey, you actually have these benefits, here’s how to use it. That’s one option. I imagine most therapists probably don’t want to do that, and that’s part of why they don’t want to take insurance. You just don’t want to. The health insurance company. Yeah, Infuriating sometimes. Absolutely. Yeah. Another option is to you can hire a biller and have someone call for you and do that for you. And the third option is you can use an automated tool such as Mentaya. So we have this instant benefits calculator where you can just ask for the client’s name, date of birth, and member ID put it into our little widget and then within 3 seconds we’ll tell you if they have out-of-network benefits or not, what their deductible is, you know, how much they can get covered, etc., and will share that with your client so that they can just do it themselves. And you don’t even have to be involved.
Linzy [00:16:38] Okay. Yeah. And so this dashboard then, like this is kind of this is where you’ve stepped into the therapist world as somebody who’s from outside of the world. The tool then allows me like if I’m on the phone with Sarah and Sarah’s like, I have Blue Cross, and I’m like, Well, I don’t take insurance. What you’re saying then is in the tool, like we can put in Sarah’s information and see how much coverage she actually has for out-of-network benefits.
Christine [00:17:04] Exactly. And so this is something that has helped therapists, you know, when over a lot of these private pay clients who might otherwise be on the fence about starting therapy, because on the phone you can say, hey, my fees, you know, 200 or whatever. But I see here that you have your deductible, let’s say $1,000, meet it in about five sessions. And then every session after that, for the rest of this year, you can get 70% back roughly on their right. And then when the client does the calculations, you’re like 70% back on $200. That’s like basically paying $60 a session. That is much closer to a co-pay.
Linzy [00:17:41] Right. Yeah. So like after those first five sessions, they’re now paying you $60 an hour, which is actually a much lower rate than I think any therapist can really afford to offer as a sliding scale. Like that’s a that’s a massive amount of coverage.
Christine [00:17:55] And to be clear, as a therapist, you’re still getting paid for 200, you’re still getting paid your full fee, but just sort of the clients being reimbursed is closer to 60.
Linzy [00:18:07] Yeah. Like I see this. It’s like you’re filling that education gap on the spot when you’re having conversation with a potential client. The tool means that you can look and see. Exactly. Not not in general, what the situation is, but like for that specific client, what their financial relationship with you would actually look like. And you can tell them, give them a completely informed perspective on this is exactly what it would look like if we decided to work together. And that sounds a lot better than somebody having to pay $200 out of pocket for the whole year. Exactly.
Christine [00:18:37] And this is something that because it’s so quick, it takes a few seconds to run and then you’ll see the benefits immediately. You can keep them on the phone. It’s not like, oh, let me call insurance or let me do this and I’ll loop around with you because then you lose momentum. Then it’s like, yeah, you have to email them and that they have to make sure to respond. They have questions. It’s you can just figure it out on the spot. And a lot of times clients might be like, Oh, this sounds great. Okay, look, I’m ready to start. You know, when can I start? And so that really helps convert clients. I’m a therapist, and obviously as a client, you’re happy. You’re like, Oh, I didn’t know I had these benefits. I can save money on therapy. This is great. And so, yeah.
Linzy [00:19:16] Yeah, it really it sounds like it. Yeah. It’s like you’ve created a tech solution for a massive problem that therapists have, which is, first of all, this, this lack of education that their clients don’t know what they have and we don’t know what they have either. There’s that lack of information. But also you have removed the need to talk to insurance companies.
Christine [00:19:34] Yes.
Linzy [00:19:34] Which I have to say, knowing therapists, like there are top two things that therapists hate. Number one is clinical notes. Number two is dealing with insurance companies. Clinical notes we cannot get rid of, but insurance companies is something that can cause a lot of stress. Right? So this just kind of bypasses that whole messy conversation and navigating being on the phone with a company that, you know, billers do this because therapists hate it so much that this is where billers have created a whole industry because it’s such a headache.
Christine [00:20:01] Exactly. Exactly. And so this is this is sort of the educational component. Yeah. Well, even understand if they have these benefits, I think there’s a second part of, you know, what do you do if you do have these benefits.
Linzy [00:20:14] Yeah. Yes.
Christine [00:20:15] So there is a couple of options that clients have right now. I think the most common one a lot of therapists do is, okay, I’ll give you a super bill. You know, you figure it out yourself. Yeah. And I don’t think therapists sometimes realize how few of their clients actually use super bills because you’re not involved. You’re just like, Here it is. Good luck. I’m not involved in it. And so maybe you’re thinking, Oh, my clients are submitting it, they’re getting reimbursed, but you have no idea because unless you’re talking to them and asking them about it, a lot of clients are like, okay, great, I have a super bill. Like, I don’t really know what to do with it. Or maybe they try to they don’t know how to submit it or they try to submit it. And they’re like, I haven’t heard back from my insurance in like a year, like I haven’t got any money back. What’s going on? Or they submit it and it gets rejected. And it’s, you know, this jargon that most people don’t understand. It’s like, oh, this code like can’t use this code to bill.
Linzy [00:21:05] Yes.
Christine [00:21:06] A lot of times clients then have to hold it there because they’re like, Hey, I got rejected. Can you help me as a therapist who doesn’t want to deal with insurance. Now you’re like, I have to go look at the code or call insurance, or maybe you get some notice from the insurance company and you’re just like, I don’t know what to do with it. And so for a variety of reasons, a lot of clients don’t end up actually successfully submitting the super bills and getting reimbursed.
Linzy [00:21:29] Right.
Christine [00:21:30] So that’s that’s currently the most prevalent option. I think therapists have vaguely heard of the concept about network benefits and super bills and they have like a copy and paste on their website that’s like, you know, I give super bills and you can full insurance and here are the things you need to do. But for the average person, you’re like going to therapy for mental health care and then, you know, to improve your mental health and then you have to go and deal with insurance that is like the most infuriating.
Linzy [00:21:57] And like I totally see how therapists I mean, this is what I hear. It’s like I give a super bill. It’s like a super bill. There’s a hand motion I’m making that nobody can see because this is a podcast. But for me, the super bill goes with the motion, which is the like, Get it out of here, like passing it off motion, right? So when we do this and our clients end up with these super bills, like, you know, I’m hearing that it can be really stressful for them. Like, what do you, what have you heard is the impact of kind of this practice that we have of just kind of sloughing off the super bill on people? What does that do to our clients? And like, why is that maybe not good for us?
Christine [00:22:29] So, I mean, I don’t want to speak for every client and there is just a few things that I’ve heard are sometimes clients can feel overwhelmed because you’re like, I go to therapy. And then on top of having to, you know, pre-pay a private pay fee and then I get this like bill that I have to figure out how to submit and deal with insurance and I have all these phone calls with insurance and it’s just this huge mess and I feel overwhelmed by the idea of having to do that. So I think that’s something that clients sometimes say. Other clients will just be really frustrated out of it. They’re just like, Oh, I thought I was supposed to get money back, but like, why am I not getting money back? Yeah, so why is it getting rejected? Like, what is wrong with the code? And then, Hey, therapist, can you help fix this? Like, why are the codes you’re giving me wrong? And then there are just clients who are just like, all right, Like, I’m not even going to try, like the idea of this just sounds insane to me. And they just they say, screw it. I’m just going to, you know, pay the full fee and not even try to get reimbursed. But what that ends up doing to them is that they might end up in a point where they’re, you know, financially little strained and they’re like, oh, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this. Like, can I go to see, you know, every other week, every other week, and then once a month and they kind of slowly stop going to therapy. You’re going less frequently because they just can’t afford it versus if you could get reimbursement more quickly and be able to then reinvest that money, you get reimbursed back into therapy. That would really change things.
Linzy [00:23:57] Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s like that stress on the client. And if they give up, then eventually they are carrying the weight of paying your sessions in full. And yeah, I can see how like if someone is paying $200 a session out of pocket and they would have the opportunity to be on the remaining 60. But that’s not working because these super bills, you know, yeah, when something has to go financially, therapy is going to be a pretty appealing way to save 800 bucks a month immediately. Yes.
Christine [00:24:21] Yes. And you know, to be clear, it’s not every single client has this issue. There are obviously some clients who do submit their super bill. It just depends so much on the insurance company, insurance plan. A lot of insurance companies make you mail in or fax in some form, usually have to fill out the form. And most clients are like, I don’t really know how to fill out the form. And so if as a client, you had again, like as a therapist, if you had a bunch of time and you really dug into it and you really did your research, you could figure it out. It’s just that most people don’t have the time or energy to be able to do this right. And insurance companies are only, you know, open during work hours. And you have to carve out time outside of work during work hours to be able to call your insurance company and figure out what’s going on. Right.
Linzy [00:25:04] Right. Okay. So for this, then, I know that meant you folks have been working on this part of the problem, too. So tell me, like, what is the solution that you’ve figured out to to ease this issue for for therapists and their clients?
Christine [00:25:19] Yeah. So entire we our goal is to completely shield therapists and clients from ever having to deal directly with insurance. We have experienced that, so we know how frustrating. But we built out this automated claim submission tool for therapists and clients where all you have to do is sign up for an account and after every session will automatically submit claims to the insurance company in their preferred format and exactly what format they mean and right so that it just goes through immediately and is successful on the first try.
Linzy [00:25:54] That is pretty sweet.
Christine [00:25:57] It’s really easy. We just need to know, you know, when the sessions have happened. And as we know that and obviously as a therapist, you pre-fill like diagnosis. There is a little bit of setup, but it takes a couple of minutes to set up. And then every week all we have to know is, you know, when the sessions have happened right, if they happen will automatically submit a claim the same day immediately to the insurance company and we generally get clients reimbursed on average. It varies a lot, but on average in 17 days. And so it’s less than a month.
Linzy [00:26:30] That’s pretty good. Yeah, that’s faster than a lot of therapists get reimbursed.
Christine [00:26:34] And yes, it depends a lot like obviously some clients get reimbursed in less than a week. Hmm. Some clients, it does take, you know, 3 to 4 weeks, but we submit it as soon as we can so that it’s processed as quickly as it possibly can be processed.
Linzy [00:26:48] And so what I’m hearing is like for the client, then once they’ve, like given the original information and their information and like there’s actually nothing for the client to do after session.
Christine [00:26:57] Exactly.
Linzy [00:26:58] And for the therapist, like, what did they actually have to do to get the information to Mentaya to say, yeah, the session happened and this is how long it was or whatever.
Christine [00:27:08] That’s a really good question. So you’re right, the client signs up, you know, they don’t have to do anything after that. As a therapist, you sign up, you set up each client’s profile, so you put in, you know, their diagnosis, CPT code as sort of the default values, and your fee and things like that. Yeah. And once you set that up per client on a recurring basis, the only thing we need from you is just confirmation if a session has happened. So for example, if you sync your calendar, we will send you a HIPPA-compliant text after every session. Just saying, can you text back ‘yes’ to just confirm the session has happened? because we we can’t have you know, we can’t just presume the sessions happened.
Linzy [00:27:44] Yeah. No, no, no shows.
Christine [00:27:45] They’re rescheduled. We just need this confirmation to make sure that the sessions happen and then that’s pretty much all we need from a therapist. You just let us know like you text back. Yes. And we will automatically submit the claim. You know, take the proper information from your profile, your client’s profile, the session details, and put it all together and submit it to insurance.
Linzy [00:28:05] Okay. And then I think the question that’s going to be on everybody’s mind who’s listening is how do you get paid? Like you being Mentaya.
Christine [00:28:14] Yes. So we have- so as a therapist, the only thing that you would pay for is the first thing I mentioned, sort of our instant benefits calculator. The thing that helps generally convert more clients. Yes. And that is that is optional. So you can submit claims for free. And we have clients pay for the claims or for the therapist, you can pay $29 a month per practice to have this benefits calculator you can use with your clients, you can put on your website, etc. and that is $29 a month. That’s month to month. You can cancel any time. And it’s fully optional. It’s, you know, if it’s helpful for your practice, you’re getting all these new clients who might be interested. You can use it if you’re like, I’m super full and I don’t have any clients benefits. Yeah, that you don’t have to use it. So we’re pretty flexible on that. And then on the client side, we charge clients a 5% fee per client. So if your session fee is 200, we charge clients $10 and on average we get clients, you know, 60 to 70% back on therapy. And so for most clients, you’re like, I’m paying a 5% fee. And then on average I’m getting, you know, 60 to 70% back, which is like a no-brainer for a lot of clients who just don’t want to deal with super bills or don’t understand how.
Linzy [00:29:26] Yeah, right. Because for them, it’s like they’re paying 5% and they’re having to do literally nothing in order for these claims to be processed.
Christine [00:29:32] Exactly. And you’re never paying 5% to get a bunch more money back. Essentially, you don’t have to do anything for that.
Linzy [00:29:37] Yeah. You know, something that I appreciate and I think it’s a helpful thing for a therapist to be thinking about is I do think that so many therapists, you know, when when they decide to opt out of insurance, they truly opt out of insurance. They’re like, I don’t think about insurance. I don’t talk about insurance. I will not call insurance. I hate insurance. But what I’m hearing is like, it’s so valuable to our clients for them to get some help from us in navigating the system, because the system is frustrating for us and it’s also frustrating for them. Right. And not only is it frustrating for them, but it’s like if they’re coming to you because they’re under stress or their marriage is in duress, or they have a child with high needs and like, you know, they’re probably coming to you because like life is a bit challenging. And so what I’m hearing and what I’m thinking about is like by therapists helping out with this piece, like not and I don’t know, it’s like, are they taking responsibility for it? I don’t know how to like, think about that piece, but it’s like you’re you’re offering this tool to make it easy to just take that part out off the client’s plate, both in terms of them being able to make an informed decision of what it’s actually going to cost them to work with you. Right. And maybe getting information that they didn’t have to realize, like, oh, once I pay $1,000, like I actually have 70% coverage, that that is the financial information that changes everything. So it’s like you’re you’re giving them the information to make an informed decision up front. But you are also taking this kind of like headache off of their plate or giving them a tool that can help them take the headache off their plate so that, yeah, like the experience of therapy just becomes a lot easier because all that admin stuff is just taken care of.
Christine [00:31:02] Exactly. And I know I, I think you made a, you touched on something that I think is important. Some therapists are like, Well, I don’t want to take insurance, so I don’t necessarily want the responsibility now, you know, feeling without even if it’s out-of-network insurance. Yeah. And what we encourage therapists to do is tell their clients like we have a whole script a therapist can share with clients. Which is, Hey, I’ve partnered with a service commentator that can help you see if you have out-of-network benefits and get reimbursed for therapy. If you do, you know, you can use, like I’ll work with them to submit these claims and actually get you your money back. But, you know, as a therapist, like, I don’t benefit in any way directly from your involvement. It’s completely optional. And if you have questions, you can email them directly. Like, we don’t want to necessarily force therapists to be sort of the middleman between their clients and us, and we want them to feel comfortable saying, Hey, Mentaya is going to take care of it. Like I’ll work with them to make sure it works, but it’s really on us that entire to make sure that the claims getting submitted and all that stuff so that it doesn’t affect your only positively affects your relationship with clients. So if they have any questions, any issues that come directly.
Linzy [00:32:14] Oh, okay. Right. Because like you would the therapist have to be involved though, in setting up the initial like billing codes and stuff like would that kind of that that seems like a part that might not be able to be skippable.
Christine [00:32:25] Yeah, so that part, I think what I’m talking about is more the framing to your clients because as a therapist you don’t portray or like you don’t feel like you’re taking on this new responsibility of dealing with insurance. Because with Mentaya we are the ones taking on that responsibility. We just need you to be involved to some extent because we can’t make up, you know, CPT codes and diagnoses for like we need to hear that from you. Yeah. And we need confirmation from you that those sessions happen. But aside from that, all the claim submission, if there’s any questions that there are any issues, we take care of all that on our own and we try not to involve you at all unless they’re like, we need, you know, whatever, more information. But usually they don’t do that. And so for pretty much it’s just smooth sailing. Once you sign up, get your clients on, you give us a little information you confirm the sessions have happened, and we’ll take care of everything else. And I think just like letting clients know that if they have questions, they come to us. If they have issues, they come to us. If they’re not hearing back from their insurance, they come to us, so that you don’t have to be involved in like, Oh, my client came into line. My client was asking me this, you know, So.
Linzy [00:33:34] Yes. It’s kind of like you’re not getting back in bed with insurance by, you know, having this service bill to your clients. Like this is a relationship between your clients and Mentaya that you need to kind of kickstart. But then it’s off your plate.
Christine [00:33:49] Exactly.
Linzy [00:33:50] Yeah. Cool. This is very exciting. I appreciate that you kind of come in to solve this problem for us. You know, in terms of, you know, speaking for therapists as a whole, which I have no authority to do whatsoever, just so you know. But I do like- I think so often in terms of like tech in the therapy space, the therapist can feel threatened because there’s a lot of tech in the therapy space that is a bit about devaluing the work that we do. And it’s like, you know, like platforms that are like, you can go work for this platform and you’re going to get paid $25 an hour to serve people. But because they can get you clients easily, like so much of tech coming into the therapy space has been a bit of a threat to the wellbeing of therapists. And so I appreciate that. I think you’re using your powers for good.
Christine [00:34:34] Thank you. Yeah, that’s something that was definitely really important to me when I started Mentaya. I wanted to do something that, you know, we want to make mental health care more accessible, but in a way that’s sustainable for therapists because, you know, if it’s not sustainable for therapists, if you play it out, you know, ten years, 15 years, 20 years down the line, we’re going to have no therapists left. And then so obviously, like the people who are working their hardest to try to help others in these times of stress, we want to be able to support therapists by helping therapists, you know, put on their oxygen masks first before being able to help their clients. And I think it also translates to better therapy for clients when therapists are not overworked or burnt out or like needing to work insane hours just to make a living.
Linzy [00:35:20] 100%. Yeah. Like, I mean, like, this is a phrase that just came to my head for the first time. But I think in some ways we’re seeing like the, you know, like Uber eats ing of therapy, you know, when we’re like when therapists are turned into basically gig workers, you know, who like, work for not very much money, but it’s like flexible and easy. But you have no rights. And like in a lot of ways, therapists have the risk of being exploited. And what I’m hearing is the solution you come up with Mentaya is kind of like the opposite. It’s like therapists, you know, can make the decisions that are right for them financially. They can like think about their needs and like set up a practice that’s sustainable for them. And this is a tool that eases that transition and like makes it easy for clients to still access like this big, complicated system that might give them significant coverage without the therapist having to carry that. Exactly. Yeah, I appreciate that. So, Christine, folks who are curious and learning more about Mentaya, where can they find more information?
Christine [00:36:13] You can go to our website. It’s mentaya.com. And we have information for therapists, for clients. We have information our pricing. And feel free to check it out. And I’d encourage everyone to sign up and try it out. It is you can sign up risk-free. I know we have a promo code as well for our listeners, LINZY, so that if you sign up and you put on your promo code, you can try out our benefits calculator for free. You can already submit claims for free. So you can essentially try out our entire platform for free for 30 days. And then if you like, the benefits calculator, you can subscribe. And if you don’t, that’s okay too. You can just use the claims submission tool as well.
Linzy [00:36:57] So. So it’s Mentaya.com And you can use promo code LINZY. It’s funny, I changed my name when I was a child and I have to spell it for people a lot. So when it’s a promo code. I’m like okay it’s LINZY, no D. And that gives them the benefits calculator free for the first month. Just like try it out and see how it works for them. Exactly. Awesome. Thank you so much, Christine. It was great having you on the podcast today.
Christine [00:37:20] Thank you so much, Linzy.
Linzy [00:37:35] I talk a lot about money being a tool that’s kind of a a philosophy about money that I’ve been increasingly leaning into in the last couple of years. And this conversation with Christine today also gets me thinking about how just having the right tools as clinicians, as business owners, as private practice owners, makes our lives so much easier and makes our clients lives so much easier. Something that I see often is that therapists can be reluctant to invest in tech and tools. Sometimes folks don’t even want to have like an EHR electronic health records because they don’t want to pay for the cost of having it. But having the right tool at your fingertips, that takes something that can be difficult and makes it easy is just so valuable in terms of recouping your time and energy to do the stuff that you’re good at and you care about. I’m really appreciative, actually, of Christine of coming in and creating a tool to make this a part of therapist relationships with our clients easier, because it means that then therapists can be spending their time being good at therapy. Clients can spend their time applying the things they’re learning in therapy and enjoying their life. It’s taking this insurance piece pretty much out of the equation, which, based on what I’ve heard with dealing with American insurance companies, is where it should be so appreciative to Christine for coming in to create a tool to make something easier for therapists so that we can focus on the stuff we love to do instead. If you are enjoying the podcast, you can check me out on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts, and I would still appreciate if you could leave a review on Apple Podcasts about the podcast. Maybe you can share about your favorite episode or what you particularly appreciate or any little things that we’ve talked about on the podcast that have stuck out and made an impact for you. Leaving a review on Apple Podcasts is the best way for other therapists and health practitioners to find the podcast. Thanks for listening today.