Affording Treatment For A Child

Your Child Can Get Better With Effective Treatment

The benefits of OCD treatment are so great that exploring financial options to pay for it is worth the effort.  OCD rarely goes away by itself, and usually grows stronger without treatment.

Money concerns can certainly present challenges to getting OCD treatment.  If financial difficulties are keeping you from seeking help to overcome your child’s OCD, it may be  possible to find a method to reduce or finance the costs of treatment.  Here are some ideas for how to pay for treatment or stretch limited dollars to get help.


If your child is of an age that qualifies him or her as a dependent under your own health insurance policy, contact your insurance carrier to discuss coverage.  Be sure to ask about the following issues:

  • Which services are covered in the health plan?
  • Is there a list of preferred therapists for CBT treatment of OCD?
  • What percentage of charges will be covered?  Some insurance companies pay more if a treatment provider is in the company’s “network” of providers, and pays a lower percentage of fees if the provider is “out of network.”
  • Does the policy have annual or lifetime limits for mental health services?

If your child is a college student, contact the student health center or counseling center at the college or university he or she attends.  Many colleges offer student health insurance, which may include coverage for mental health services at deeply-discounted rates or even free of charge.  Some colleges and universities have on-staff psychologists who are trained to offer Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

Campus services may also be able to make referrals to psychologists in private practice who are trained and experienced in providing Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

In addition, if your child qualifies, disability benefits may be available through Social Security.  Certain low-income individuals who cannot afford to pay for medical care can apply for benefits under Medicare or Medicaid.


Some cognitive behavior therapists offer a sliding scale of fees, which are fees based upon one’s ability to pay for services.  You should explain your financial situation clearly and, if necessary, try to work out a payment plan that extends over a period of time.

Because the only effective, scientifically-supported therapy for OCD is CBT, sometimes in combination with prescription medication, it’s important not to waste time or money on unproven, ineffective therapies.  At this time, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of treatments such as hypnosis, herbal or homeopathic remedies, relaxation therapy, eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) or dietary changes.  And psychoanalysis and therapies that focus on family dynamics, early childhood trauma or issues of self-esteem are not effective treatments for OCD.  While certain forms of therapy, such as marriage and family counseling, can help with relationship problems and other difficulties that frequently accompany OCD, CBT and medication represent the cornerstone of treatment for OCD.

It’s important to note that meditation, yoga and exercise can complement formal treatment for OCD.  Many people find these tools to be extremely effective in helping reduce anxiety and facilitating the treatment process.

It’s also critical that any therapist you contact be trained and experienced in Cognitive Behavior Therapy.  Keep looking if the therapist has never conducted CBT with children and adolescents.  When you contact a therapist about OCD treatment, asking the right questions can save you time and sometimes money. An appropriate amount of “due diligence” in selecting a therapist will ultimately result in finding a qualified and experienced CBT therapist.

You may also want to contact your local mental health association for names of cognitive behavior therapists and for information regarding any kind of financial assistance that may be available for treatment.


If your son’s or daughter’s therapist recommends the use of OCD medication in conjunction with Cognitive Behavior Therapy, it may be possible to obtain drugs at a reduced price.  A number of resources offer information about prescription assistance, including:

You can also try some of the following:

  • Ask the prescribing doctor whether a generic form of the medication prescribed is available.  Generic drugs generally are less expensive than “name brand” medications.  For example, fluoxetine, a generic medication, is far less expensive than Prozac, the brand name of the drug.
  • Call various pharmacies to find the one that offers the medication at the lowest cost.
  • Ask pharmacies if ordering a three-month supply would lower the cost.  Some insurance companies offer discounts on co-pays for prescriptions if the medications are ordered in 90-day supplies by mail or online.
  • Even though you want to save money, it’s very important to avoid ordering medications online from unknown sources.  Some web sites offer easy access to “doctors” who will write prescriptions that are filled by online “pharmacies.”  In some cases, junk email messages offer discounts on prescription medications, which are often filled in foreign countries.

The prices of drugs sold by some unknown sources may be attractive and far lower than those offered by local and reputable online pharmacies.  But there are many confirmed reports of online shoppers receiving fake medications.  In fact, when analyzed, some of these drugs were actually found to contain harmful substances including contaminated powders and, in one case, cement powder!  Obviously, you would never want your child to risk taking counterfeit medications.

Financing Options

Medical Credit Lines.  Some doctors offer lines of credit to help patients pay for services that might otherwise be financially out of reach.  If this is a payment method you choose to use, read the fine print carefully to understand the interest rate you will be charged before you sign the credit agreement.  Some providers’ interest rates will be similar to that of a credit card; some will be more expensive.  Choose carefully, because finance charges can add up quickly over the life of the loan or payback period.

Personal Credit.  Another option is to talk with your bank about a personal loan or credit line.  Again, be sure to read the disclosure information, and talk with a personal banker about calculating the total cost of finance charges until the amount borrowed is paid back.  As with a credit card, if you make only the minimum payment every month, you can actually end up owing significantly more than the amount borrowed in a short period of time, because finance charges are added to the principal amount borrowed.

The key to borrowing money for any purpose is to fully understand the total cost up front—before you sign anything—and commit to a disciplined payment schedule, so you don’t put undue financial stress on your family.

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