When we started Breakthrough, we were very curious why online therapy was not yet common. It seemed like such a good idea!

To understand more, we talked with the founders of several online therapy startups who came before us. We learned online therapy has had several barriers historically, such as limited research on its effectiveness, low adoption of broadband, and hard to use videoconferencing products.

However, each of these barriers has dropped significantly in recent years. We now believe the top reason that online therapy is not onlinetherapycommonplace is that it’s still a challenge to get online care reimbursed by insurance.

Since our founding, we have believed that helping our patients get insurance coverage for their online care is essential. The Department of Health and Human Services reports 88% of mental health care spending in 2005 – over $100 billion – is funded by public or private insurance.

However, health care providers and companies have mostly shied from trying to get reimbursement for online care. It’s hard work, so most providers charge patients out-of-pocket for telehealth’s benefits.

But we adamantly believe that this is not what patients want. Patients want to use their insurance to make online therapy affordable. Paying $100 or more out-of-pocket is simply not an option for many people who would otherwise pay a $25 co-pay or less for an office visit. We want to combine this coverage of in-person care with the convenience, privacy, and choice of online care.

That is why Breakthrough has worked for four years to gain insurance coverage. We currently accept Blue Shield of California, Magellan Health Services, and Western Health Advantage in California. Soon, we will be able to announce more major insurers that we accept. We can’t wait!

Insurance coverage for telehealth is also broadly growing. As the American Psychological Association notes, Medicare reimburses online therapy when patients are at medical facilities, Medicaid reimburses online therapy in at least 13 states, and over 130 private insurers reimburse for telehealth, which usually includes online therapy. It is only a matter of time until telehealth and its benefits are available to us all.

Toward good health,

Mark Goldenson
CEO, Breakthrough