Tech Startups Take On Mental Health Services For The Financially Strapped

Here's the Telehealth Apps That Give You The Best Bang For Your Buck

By Andy Hirschfeld

Between COVID-19 and the economic effects that come along with it; America's mental health is being put to the test. Mental health issues are often exacerbated by isolation, layoffs and furloughs yet those facing those dilemmas at the same time have limited funds and access to the mental healthcare they need to make it through these uncertain times. 

As telemedicine expands, so does the industry of therapy apps available on mobile devices. Telehealth, especially in the context of COVID-19, has been endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control. Products like Teladoc, Doctor on Demand, Talkspace,  and Betterhelp lead the pack of therapy on demand marketplace. At this moment, they are really being put to the test. If you are looking for mental healthcare in this moment, here are the best telehealth services to consider: 

First off there are two iterations can choose from that really depends on your needs. Do you need to see a psychiatrist or just a therapist? If you need to see a psychiatrist; Doctor on Demand and Teladoc are your best options. The costs vary between the two. 

For Doctors on Demand therapy starts at $129, and there is a $75 flat fee for medical visits.  Last year, Doctors on Demand launched a one of a kind joint health insurance plan with Humana called On Hand which offers doctor visits for $0 copays and prescriptions for common medications at $5. They also accept Cigna, Aetna, and United Healthcare. Out of pocket costs run $299 for psychiatry for an initial visit. Teladoc has broader health insurance options but you’ll need to check with your insurer to find out the specifics. Out of pocket costs are also very reasonable. The company offers mental health services out of pocket starting at $75. 

Doctors on Demand connects consumers to doctors through video specifically. Meanwhile, Teladoc also connects users with mental health professionals over video or on the phone which is clearly a feature consumers want.  Apple store ratings skyrocketed 35% from February to April the onset of the pandemic in the United States -- as more and more people were homebound.

If you don’t want to see a psychiatrist, Talkspace and Betterhelp might be better bets. They connect you specifically with therapists and focus exclusively in the mental healthcare space. Out of pocket costs run weekly starting at $49 for Talkspace. They tout a whooping one million users.  Betterhelp, starts at $40.

Betterhelp and Talkspace allow users to text as well as audio and video messaging with mental healthcare professionals.

It’s best to evaluate your specific needs to find the best program for you and your situation. Keep an eye out for new options in the future. This industry is only set to expand. Telehealth options expanded in recent months with The CARES ACT -- new legislation aims to extend those options permanently. Passage would help both consumers and telehealth providers expand access to healthcare.

By Andy Hirschfeld
Andy Hirschfeld is a multimedia journalist based in New York City. He’s a contributing writer to numerous publications including The New York Observer, The Daily Dot, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg TV, CS Monitor, OZY, Fortune, and Mic among others. He’s appeared on NPR, CBS, Pacifica Radio, and DW. Previously he’s produced and reported for ABC, CBS, and CNN. Follow on Twitter at @andyreports