Medicare Can Help People In Rural Areas Access Mental Health Care
Medicare pays for a limited number of Part B services furnished by a physician or practitioner to an eligible beneficiary via a telecommunications system. For eligible telehealth services, the use of a telecommunications system substitutes for an in-person encounter.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as psychotherapy via telemental health is covered by Medicare for certain eligible beneficiaries. These beneficiaries must be located in a rural Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) located either outside of a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) or in a rural census tract; or in a county outside of a MSA. Mental Health HPSAs are based on a psychiatrist to population ratio of 1:30,000. In other words, when there are 30,000 or more people per psychiatrist, an area is eligible to be designated as a mental health HPSA.
It is important to note that the telemental therapy cannot occur just over the phone. For telehealth to be covered under Medicare Part B, it must be through an interactive audio and video telecommunication system that permits real-time communication between the practitioner at the distant site and the beneficiary at the originating site.
More information on telehealth and mental health care can be found at: