After the death of a family member or close friend, most people experience devastating emotional and physical pain, and they might have difficulty functioning through daily life activities. For many, grief counseling, or bereavement therapy, helps them get through these difficult times, learn how to accept their loss and continue in life without their loved ones.
When you take part in grief counseling, you usually work with a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or a support group, to discuss and come to terms with your feelings and emotions. Grief counseling also helps you cultivate healthy coping strategies to manage your grief and to find outside support from others experiencing similar situations.
Grief counseling isn’t a solution for everyone, but it does provide many benefits for those who are struggling with bereavement, and Medicare insurance can help you cover these valuable services.
How does Medicare cover grief counseling?
Grief counseling is a mental health service that helps you if you’re having difficulty getting through your grief process.
Under Medicare insurance, you have coverage for the following services related to grief counseling and mental health care when you need them:
- Family counseling
- Group psychotherapy
- Individual psychotherapy
- Diagnostic and laboratory testing
- Medication management counseling
- Psychiatric evaluations
- Partial hospitalization
- Annual depression screenings
To be eligible for this coverage, your health care provider (who accepts Medicare assignment) assesses your mental health care needs and helps you decide which grief counseling services would be most suitable for you. You can get your grief counseling from any of the following types of health care providers who accept Medicare assignment:
- Medical doctors
- Clinical psychologists, social workers, or nurse specialists
- Nurse practitioners
- Doctor’s assistants
- Certified nurse-midwives
If you require mental health services while you’re an admitted patient in a general hospital or a psychiatric hospital, Original Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) covers your inpatient grief counseling services.
Medicare Part A pays for these services while you’re an inpatient after you meet your Part A deductible for the current benefit period. You pay a daily coinsurance fee if your inpatient stay continues beyond 60 days. Mental health services are covered for up to 190 days in a psychiatric hospital setting.
As an outpatient or under partial hospitalization, if you’re eligible for grief counseling services, Original Medicare Part B (medical insurance)covers the following:
- Individual and, or group psychotherapy sessions
- Assistance with medication management
- Psychiatric evaluations
Medicare Part B covers these services whether you get them at a physician’s office, hospital outpatient department, or a community mental health center if they accept Medicare assignment.
Medicare Part B also covers grief counseling you get during partial hospitalization if the programs are provided by Medicare-affiliated community health centers or hospital outpatient programs. These services typically include intensive therapy and counseling provided daily.
How does a Medicare Advantage plan cover the costs of grief counseling?
If you have coverage through a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, your provider must cover any mental health services that are covered by Original Medicare Parts A and B. Your plan may also offer additional coverage or extra benefits that aren’t covered by Original Medicare.
Depending on the type of Medicare Advantage plan you have, you may need to use health care providers and medical facilities that are approved by your provider. If you don’t have access to a list of approved network providers, you contact your insurance provider for coverage details before making appointments, or you might not be eligible for coverage.
If your health care provider prescribes antidepressants or other types of drugs as part of your grief counseling services, you need a prescription drug plan to get coverage. If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, you can also enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan during the appropriate enrollment periods. If you have Medicare Advantage, your plan may include prescription drug coverage.