Normally, the HealthShare Challenge feature only compares two companies. However, due to the limited information available on mental health sharing provided by HealthShare companies, it is difficult to offer in-depth reviews of what they offer. In this article, all the HealthShares that offer some degree of mental wellness sharing will be reviewed, and the best HealthShare will be selected based on the available information.
Direct members of Zion HealthShare (individuals or families who sign up themselves, not through an employer) have access to a third-party add-on called LifeWorks, which offers 24/7 virtual counseling services. LifeWorks claims to give its users a “clinically appropriate number of sessions” with no session fees. This is noteworthy since many companies, including HealthShares, tend to offer “mental wellness” services but limit visits to only a few per year. Therapy requires consistency to be effective, since the person seeking help often needs to learn how to recognize problematic thought patterns or behaviors, and then do regular work to change them. Irregular therapy visits don’t help with positive, lasting change, so the number of allowed visits is important to note.
Zion HealthShare also states that LifeWorks counseling services are available without the need to meet the per-incident minimum, and that their members may meet therapists virtually or in-person. However, they do not share costs related to ADHD, SPD, ADHS, or mental health medications. These limitations are typical for HealthShares, as it is standard practice in the industry to help share costs for medications prescribed after an incident (for example, pain medications after a surgery).
OneShare offers its members a unique feature called Bella. Bella is described as “the Intuitive Mental Health Chatbot,” and is available 24/7 for free.
There have been doubts about the effectiveness of AI for mental illness, even though Bella is reportedly helpful for anxiety and depression. However, a review of other chatbots showed a surprisingly positive consensus. While AI is not recommended for severe mental conditions, reviews of mental health bots indicate that they commonly use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is useful in identifying destructive thought patterns and then helping patients develop healthier behaviors through consistent work. The nature of AI also makes it more accessible for most people, without having to worry about cost or time.
Although it may not be a better solution than traditional counseling, a study found promising results for mental health AI in general.
Solidarity HealthShare states that expenses related to treatment for eating disorders are eligible for sharing, as are costs related to counseling (including for drug and alcohol abuse), treatment, medication, and even emergency hospitalization. The member guidelines don’t state whether there are any limits on this, for example, if sharing is only available for a certain number of visits per year or if Solidarity will only share a percentage of total mental health costs. However, they also list other kinds of therapy that are eligible for sharing, up to 20 visits per year, including services such as speech therapy. Many other HealthShares offer no assistance with speech therapy (or similar services) at all, so this gives Solidarity’s mental health policies an edge over the competition.
Additionally, Solidarity specifies that mental health and telemedicine services can be shared even if the member has not previously seen the virtual provider in-person. The number of eligible services make Solidarity’s mental wellness programs stand out from the competition.
Although they have virtual counseling options, Medi-Share’s restrictions on these counseling sessions make them more challenging to use than other programs. Members must use providers in Medi-Share’s approved network and visits are limited to 30 minutes. Moreover, the counselors cannot prescribe medication or manage chronic conditions such as eating disorders, trauma, PTSD, stress disorders, or addiction.
Medi-Share directly states that anyone who wants help with an ongoing mental condition is responsible for finding, and paying for, specialist help, and that any counseling visits outside of the approved virtual sessions are not shareable. In general, significant progress requires more than 30 minutes per counseling session. While Medi-Share’s service may be suitable for some members, it has limitations prospective members should consider carefully.
Altrua HealthShare offers LifeWorks. However, their guidelines state that counseling, testing, treatment, medication, and hospitalization related to: “mental/psychiatric health, learning disabilities, developmental delays, autism, behavioral disorders, eating disorders, neuropsychological disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, ADHD/hyperactivity disorders,” and so on, are not shareable. After examining Altrua’s list of exceptions, their mental health services appear to be quite limited.
Therapy sessions can cost as little as $60 for an hour-long meeting, but it’s much more common to pay $100-$200 per visit, as reported by Forbes. In some high-density areas, like New York City, costs can be even higher. With that in mind, Sedera’s sharing benefits will likely help with approximately six to seven visits in a year. This may be adequate for individuals who only need occasional help. For those who chronically struggle with common conditions like anxiety, it might not be the most suitable option.
On the other hand, Sedera’s guidelines also state that ADHD, ADD, autism, and SPD disorders are shareable up to $3,000 per member, per membership year. Sedera also offers remote behavioral health assistance for an additional fee (services include counseling for depression, anxiety, stress, family issues, and more).
United Refuah HealthShare
With United Refuah, charges for psychiatric/psychological counseling, testing, treatment provided with a mental health diagnosis can be shared. There is a limit of 10 visits per membership year, and a maximum shareable amount of $125 for any single date of service (counseling session).
Interestingly, United Refuah specifies that other mental health services not connected to a “diagnosed mental illness” are not eligible for sharing. In their list of exceptions, they include counseling for behavioral issues, learning disabilities, grief, family/marriage counseling, medication and hospitalization. This places United Refuah’s mental health sharing at middle-of-the road in terms of comparison. Their guidelines may be of more use for members with chronic conditions such as depression than members with an occasional need for support.
The best HealthShare for mental wellness
Solidarity HealthShare. The breadth of shareable services and conditions is notably impressive. While most of the HealthShares listed here offer middle-of-the-road sharing for mental wellness, Solidarity goes above and beyond to share costs excluded by others.