Northwestern University Student Health Insurance | Mental Health Insurance Coverage — Zencare

Northwestern University Student Health Insurance for Therapy

Northwestern University offers its students the opportunity to learn about a diverse range of educational areas while experiencing the rich culture of Chicago. The university values its students physical and mental health and therefore requires them to enroll in the Northwestern University Student Health Insurance Plan (NU-SHIP), which is a health insurance plan created in partnership with Aetna. Aetna is a large health insurance company that provides millions of people across the country with medical coverage. Under this plan, students have access to many mental health benefits — including therapy!

Does the Northwestern University student health insurance cover therapy?

Yes, NU-SHIP provides coverage for therapy services. Northwestern University believes that overall student wellbeing must include a focus on mental health, therefore it makes mental health services accessible for all.

Students enrolled in NU-SHIP can see an in-network or an out-of-network therapist for mental health services. This plan uses the Aetna provider network, as NU-SHIP is an Aetna PPO plan.

How do I check if my Northwestern University student health insurance plan covers therapy?

To check if your Northwestern University student health plan covers therapy services, look at your Summary and Benefits document. Here you’ll find a cost for each type of service, including therapy. This document lists out all of your copayment or coinsurance rates. To learn more about your therapy coverage, find the “mental health” or “behavioral health” section, where you’ll find your coverage for outpatient services.

Example Aetna Student Health Insurance Summary of Benefits, with Outpatient Mental Health section highlighted.

If you cannot find this information through your Summary and Benefits document, try calling the phone number on the back of your insurance card where the customer service department will share with you the coverage available to you through your specific university’s plan.

How much does therapy cost with Northwestern University student health insurance?

Therapy with NU-SHIP will cost around a 20% coinsurance rate each session with an in-network therapist. This means that you’ll pay 20% of the therapy fee each time you see your therapist (so if your therapist charges $100 each session, you’ll be responsible for $20). For therapy with out-of-network therapists, you’ll be responsible for a 40% coinsurance.

It’s most cost-effective to meet with a therapist that is in the Aetna network. The Aetna network includes thousands of great providers, which means you have the opportunity to find the therapist that’s right for you. This cost may change across school years. To find the most accurate information on therapy costs, refer to your specific plan’s Summary and Benefits document.

Northwestern University also requires that students receive a referral through the Northwestern University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office before they seek therapy off-campus. If a student does not go through this process, they may incur a $50 penalty.

What types of mental health conditions does the Northwestern University student health insurance cover?

The Northwestern University student health plan covers many mental health conditions, including those that are common in the student population. Aetna requires that each client receives a diagnosis from their therapist for reimbursement purposes. This diagnosis guides treatment and insurance coverage.

Examples of eligible mental health conditions include:

There are many more diagnosable — and reimbursable — mental health conditions, all of which the Northwestern University student health plan covers.

What types of therapy does the Northwestern University student health insurance cover?

The Northwestern University student health insurance covers many different types of therapy provided by credentialed professional therapists. As long as your therapist provides an evidence-based, clinically rigorous therapy modality that is appropriate for the given diagnosis, you’ll receive coverage.

These evidence-based therapy modalities include, but are not limited to:

Often therapists blend their therapy approaches. As long as they meet Aetna’s requirements, their services are eligible for reimbursement.

What types of therapy does the Northwestern University student health insurance NOT cover?

The Northwestern University student health insurance only provides coverage for therapy costs associated with services that are evidence-based. This means that all treatment modality needs to have empirical research backing its efficacy.

The Northwestern University student health plan does not cover life coaching and career coaching, as these disciplines are less based on evidence and are more reliant on goal-setting and achievement outcomes. There is also no coverage for holistic approaches to treatment like aromatherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, reiki healing, or nutritional therapy. They also do not cover ketamine, psychedelic, or hypnosis treatments, even if the purpose of this treatment is for a mental health condition.

Does the Northwestern University student health insurance cover online therapy?

Yes, the Northwestern University student health plan offers coverage for online therapy. This opens the doors for many clients who aren’t able to physically attend therapy sessions each week, whether for a physical limitation or because of the constraints of a busy student schedule.

Your coverage for therapy costs will remain the same, whether you visit your therapy in-person or online. This includes the same copayment and coinsurance rates.

Does the Northwestern University student health insurance cover couples therapy?

No, the Northwestern University student health plan does not provide coverage for couples therapy. Often, health insurance companies do not have mental health benefits for couples because of the lack of a reimbursable diagnosis, so it is not uncommon for this health insurance plan to deem couples therapy ineligible.

However, you can find couples therapy services through the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office. There are also ways to decrease the cost of couples therapy to make it more affordable, if you and your partner or partners would benefit from this service.

Do I need to see my primary doctor before starting therapy?

No, you do not need to see your primary care physician before starting your search for an excellent therapist. This is because the Northwestern University student health plan is a PPO, meaning you do not need a referral for specialist services. However, you will need to visit the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office to receive a referral to avoid a financial penalty. However, when you have that referral, you’re all set to find a great therapist near you!