In November last year I had just concluded a support group session for moms who’ve lost a baby at our office. You know how it is after a meeting – people don’t leave immediately. Instead, we stayed and chatted about a myriad of things. Then as we were about to leave, one of the women walked up to me and asked “do you take insurance for payment of counseling?” I said no. And I did not give that question much thought afterwards. Until this year someone asked me “why don’t you get certified to have people who come for counseling pay using their insurance?” and the conversation I had last year came flooding back in. I started to ask myself some rather interesting questions. What processes do hospitals and clinics go through to be certified by insurance companies so that patients just swipe a card after receiving service? How do the hospitals then process the claim to the insurance company so they can get paid? Halfway through these questions I realized I did not even know if insurance companies covered counseling services. Was I stressing myself wondering how to get Still A Mum certified and maybe no insurance company covered counseling services? The next step was obvious. I started to research insurance covers that catered to any mental health conditions.
Research is an amazing thing. When you dig deep you will be amazed by the things you find. Until now, I have needed just the basic things from my insurance provider. I have few outpatients visits – the usual flu and aches. I have been admitted in hospital twice – both child birth related which technically falls under maternity services and not necessarily inpatient. I have used my optical cover once when I discovered I am long sighted and even needed to wear glasses for a while. This is actually funny because you get long sighted when you grow old – which is why our folks hold out the Bible so far in front when reading. The doctor really laughed at me for being long sighted at this age. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, basic services I have used. The one thing I always use up is my dental cover. I have always had issues with my teeth and need to see a dentist every so often. Why are dental covers so low? – I am yet to find a cover that is more than 50,000 for denta? These 4 services are only ones I have used. So it makes sense that I did not know whether counseling is covered by insurance plans. I was so thrilled by what I found from my research.
I noted several insurance companies that actually covered psychiatry visits which led me into looking at psychiatrists in Kenya. But I wondered, what about basic counseling visits? Psychiatry is more towards diagnosed mental conditions while counseling covers a wider ground like stress, depression, substance dependency etc. Counseling is sort of the first level of intervention while psychiatry involves medicating the patient. Again, I dove deep and started to look for insurance plans that cover specifically counseling. I found quite a number of these. Two stood out for me. NHIF and Minet. The reason they stood for me is because they have the widest coverage and are both government initiatives available to the masses. I was really happy to see the NHIF Supa Cover which is for self-employed people who pay sh.500 a month also covers counseling. But Minet blew me away.
Minet is the insurance cover for teachers under TSC. Again, I am interest in what insurance for the masses looks like. Teachers make up a huge percentage of Kenya’s workforce and so it is important for us to know what kind of cover they get. Minet has the usual outpatient, inpatient, dental, optical and maternity services. Under maternity they also cover IVF which is amazing! However, it is their psychiatric and counseling services that really makes me happy. This plan covers provision of psycho-social support programmes for employees with conditions such as chemical dependency, stress, post-traumatic counseling, relationship difficulties, anxiety, depression, parenting, legal or financial distress etc. Services include but are not limited to:
- Psycho-social tele-counseling services through the Minet tele-counseling center will a toll few line – 0800 720029
- On-site counseling services
- Referrals for face to face counseling by a specialist
Having counseling covered by an insurance cover is a huge win for mental health. At a time when depression is at all-time high with suicide rates rising daily it is important to know that you can seek counseling and your insurance can pay for it.
Because I am still continuing with my research, allow me to ask you a question. Beyond the usual inpatient, outpatient, dental, optical and maternity services, what does your insurance plan cover?
Author: Wanjiru Kihusa
I am Wanjiru Kihusa and I’m a writer and founder of Still A Mum – an organization that seeks to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Africa. I am especially passionate about women and children.
I blog to share my thoughts and experiences hoping that in the process someone will learn from my life.