You've got questions, we've got answers!
If I receive counseling can anyone find out about it?
The counseling process is confidential, which means that we cannot release any information about you except under certain legally prescribed conditions which include a substantial likelihood of harm to yourself, harm to others, instances of child abuse or elder abuse or if your insurance company requires certain information before paying for your counseling services. If you have concerns or questions about confidentiality, please discuss them with your counselor.
How is therapy different than talking to my friends?
Talking with friends and family is great way to maintain and build your support system. Your support system can be instrumental in helping you through some of life’s most difficult times. However, speaking with loved ones is not the same as talking to a professional counselor. Counselors are professionals with specialized training in helping people who are encountering difficulties in their lives. They can also provide an “outside”, objective perspective that is different than what your friends can provide. Also, sometimes people worry that if they talk with their friends about their problems that they will be a burden or that their friends will treat them differently. Since a counselor is a professional whose job it is to help you, hopefully you will feel more comfortable being open about your problems, which will make it easier to get effective help.
How can therapy help?
At Ascension we will work with you to identify your personal goals for counseling. After a discussion about your goals and the most helpful techniques to use, the clinician will listen to any questions and concerns. We also thoroughly explain what to expect during the counseling process. After all questions have been asked and answered we will provide the most appropriate treatment for you and your goals. You can expect that your therapist will listen closely to understand your experience and then find ways to assist you in moving towards your goals. Counseling is a highly personal experience, so each treatment plan created varies from person to person. Counseling will often involve getting a different perspective on your experiences, exploring and discovering things about yourself, making changes in unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving, processing difficult experiences, and learning healthy coping tools.
Can I receive a text reminder for my appointment?
Yes! Ascension Counseling sends out text reminders the day before your appointment. (Friday for Monday appointments).
Can I be seen in person?
Ascension Counseling was specifically designed to offer the convenience and added privacy of online appointments to help client's effectively progress through therapy without the added stress of traveling, traffic, parking and being in an unfamiliar environment. Online counseling also allows clients to work with a therapist who could be located on the other side of the state, which increases your options for treatment providers if you have not found someone in your area who you would like to work with. Since our initial consultations are free, give us a try with no obligations.
What is an initial consultation?
An initial consultation is a time for you to meet with a counselor through a secure video feed to determine if Ascension Counseling is the best service to address your needs. Once you have scheduled an intake, you will complete intake forms through our secure portal at least 24 hours prior to your appointment. This information is reviewed by a counselor before the appointment, to ensure that we have an accurate, initial first impression regarding your needs. The intake counselor will spend approximately 10-15 minutes discussing your concerns with you. At the end of the appointment, the intake counselor will discuss next steps in regard to recommending services that may be a good fit for you. If Ascension Counseling cannot offer the services that best fit your needs, the intake counselor will provide you referrals to a more appropriate resource.
How much do the counseling sessions cost?
Sessions typically range from $150-$200 per session. The cost of each session depends on the type of service scheduled. At this time Ascension accepts United Healthcare, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. Ascension also serves as an out of network provider for most other insurance plans. What this means is, if you do not have the insurance mentioned above, you will pay the full fee for the session prior to the appointment. At the end of each month, you will receive a receipt which is often referred to as a superbill. You will submit your superbill to your insurance provider and they will reimburse you based on your specific mental health benefits. It is important to check your mental health benefits with your insurance provider to find out your reimbursement rate.
Why do I have to provide my credit card information?
A credit card is kept on file for all clients to ensure payment of services rendered. Your credit card will be charged 24 hours in advance of your appointment if you are self-pay. If you use insurance your credit card will only be charged your co-pay or the fee listed in the informed consent for late concellations and no shows.
Can I use my insurance?
The simple answer is "yes". Using insurance is typically a preference for people seeking medical treatment. While billing your insurance can decrease your out of pocket expenses, there are a few things that are important to keep in mind.
When anyone uses their insurance benefits for mental health treatment (both in network benefits and out of network benefits) the insurance company:
1. Requires a mental health diagnosis to be given or they will not cover the service (yes, even for the first visit)
2. Dictates both the number and length of sessions provided
3. Requires that services are considered "medically necessary" which dictates what presenting problems they are willing to cover
Ascension Counseling is currently in network with United Health Care, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. If you have another type of insurance, we can provide a superbill for out of network claims for you to be reimbursed by the insurance company.
*Ascension is not a Medicaid or Medicare provider*
I want the added privacy and control over my counseling sessions by not using my insurance, but I can not afford the private pay rate. What are my options?
At Ascension, we offer a sliding fee scale for private pay clients based on their income. We also accept payment from your health spending account or health flexible spending account. If you are interested in our services but feel you may have difficulties covering the fee, please contact our office to discuss options.
What are the benefits of online counseling?
Online counseling is just as effective as meeting with a counselor in person with a few more added benefits.
Some of the added benefits of online counseling in Virginia are:
1. Not having to fight traffic to make it to your appointment
2. Added privacy and convenience of being in your own home or office
3. Convenient appointment times that work well with your busy lifestyle
4.The ability to still have your sessions anywhere in the state of Virginia
What is the "No Surprises Act" and how does this impact me?
Effective January 1, 2022, the No Surprises Act, which Congress passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, is designed to protect patients from surprise bills for emergency services at out-of-network facilities or for out-of-network providers at in-network facilities, holding them liable only for in-network cost-sharing amounts. The No Surprises Act also enables uninsured patients to receive a good faith estimate of the cost of care.
Your Rights and Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills
When you get emergency care or get treated by an out-of-network provider at an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center, you are protected from surprise billing or balance billing.
What is “balance billing” (sometimes called “surprise billing”)?
When you see a doctor or other health care provider, you may owe certain out-of-pocket costs, such as a copayment, coinsurance, and/or a deductible. You may have other costs or have to pay the entire bill if you see a provider or visit a health care facility that isn’t in your health plan’s network. “Out-of-network” describes providers and facilities that haven’t signed a contract with your health plan. Out-of-network providers may be permitted to bill you for the difference between what your plan agreed to pay and the full amount charged for a service. This is called “balance billing.” This amount is likely more than in-network costs for the same service and might not count toward your annual out-of-pocket limit.
“Surprise billing” is an unexpected balance bill. This can happen when you can’t control who is involved in your care–like when you have an emergency or when you schedule a visit at an in-network facility but are unexpectedly treated by an out-of-network provider.
You are protected from balance billing for:
If you have an emergency medical condition and get emergency services from an out-of-network provider or facility, the most the provider or facility may bill you is your plan’s in-network cost-sharing amount (such as copayments and coinsurance). You can’t be balance billed for these emergency services. This includes services you may get after you’re in stable condition, unless you give written consent and give up your protections not to be balanced billed for these post-stabilization services.
Additionally, The Virginia state surprise billing law is described in the required Model Notice on their Virginia law:
Certain services at an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center
When you get services from an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center, certain providers there may be out-of-network. In these cases, the most those providers may bill you is your plan’s in-network cost-sharing amount. This applies to emergency medicine, anesthesia, pathology, radiology, laboratory, neonatology, assistant surgeon, hospitalist, or intensivist services. These providers can’t balance bill you and may not ask you to give up your protections not to be balance billed.
If you get other services at these in-network facilities, out-of-network providers can’t balance bill you, unless you give written consent and give up your protections.
You’re never required to give up your protections from balance billing. You also aren’t required to get care out-of-network. You can choose a provider or facility in your plan’s network.
When balance billing isn’t allowed, you also have the following protections:
You are only responsible for paying your share of the cost (like the copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles that you would pay if the provider or facility was in-network). Your health plan will pay out-of-network providers and facilities directly.
Your health plan generally must:
Cover emergency services without requiring you to get approval for services in advance (prior authorization).
Cover emergency services by out-of-network providers.
Base what you owe the provider or facility (cost-sharing) on what it would pay an in-network provider or facility and show that amount in your explanation of benefits.
Count any amount you pay for emergency services or out-of-network services toward your deductible and out-of-pocket limit.
If you believe you’ve been wrongly billed, you may contact:
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit https://www.cms.gov/nosurprises for more information about your rights under federal law.
Your health plan to ask them why you got the bill and if it’s correct. If it was an emergency, ask your health plan if they processed your claim as an emergency.
The State Corporation Commissioner’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance at 877-310-6560 or visit scc.virginia.gov
Good Faith Estimate
You have the right to receive a “Good Faith Estimate” explaining how much your medical care will cost.
Under the law, healthcare providers need to give patients who don’t have insurance or who are not using insurance an estimate of the bill for medical items and services.
You have the right to receive a Good Faith Estimate for the total expected cost of any non-emergency items or services. This includes related costs like medical tests, prescription drugs, equipment and hospital fees.
Make sure your healthcare provider gives you a Good Faith Estimate in writing at least one business day before your medical service or item. You can also ask your healthcare provider, and any other provider you choose, for a Good Faith Estimate before you schedule an item or service.
If you receive a bill that is at least $400 more than your Good Faith Estimate, you can dispute the bill.
Make sure to save a copy or picture of your Good Faith Estimate.
Get More Information
For questions or more information about your right to a Good Faith Estimate, visit cms.gov/nosurprises or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).