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As we age, we often experience new stressors related to ongoing loss, physical and mental decline, and financial constraints. Around 15% of older adults suffer from mental disorders—the most prevalent being dementia and depression. Treatment for mental health conditions like depression and anxiety is essential for improving quality of life and overall health because our physical and mental health are intertwined. For example, those with chronic health conditions tend to experience more stress and higher levels of depression. Untreated depression can result in more negative outcomes. 

The good news is that Medicare helps cover the costs of diagnosing and treating mental health disorders. 

What mental health services does Medicare cover?

Medicare covers both outpatient and inpatient visits with mental health professionals. We’ll start by explaining outpatient mental services, which include visits to mental health professionals without overnight hospitalization. 

Coverage for outpatient mental health services

Medicare provides coverage for various screening, preventive, and outpatient treatment services. This category includes the more common therapy services like “talk therapy” or cognitive behavioral therapy.

Screening and prevention

Medicare pays for one depression screening per year as well as annual wellness visits during which your doctor may ask about symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit also includes an assessment of your risk factors for mental health conditions. 


If you’re diagnosed with a mental health disorder that requires treatment, Medicare will help cover the cost.

Individual and group therapy

Services such as individual or group psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” are covered by Medicare. Family counseling may also be covered if the primary purpose of the counseling is to help with your treatment. You can receive treatment with therapy at various outpatient settings like a provider’s office, a hospital’s outpatient department, community mental health center, or online through virtual (telehealth) visits. 

Substance misuse treatment

Medicare provides additional coverage for opioid use disorder, alcohol misuse, and other substance use disorders. Management for opioid use disorder, including medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and naloxone, are covered as outpatient services. In-person and virtual counseling are also covered. If you use alcohol but don’t meet the medical criteria for alcohol dependency, Medicare covers one misuse screening each year. If it’s determined that you are misusing alcohol, you may receive up to four counseling sessions per year. 

Structured outpatient programs

Partial hospitalization, a structured outpatient program with no overnight stay, is covered as an outpatient service. This alternative to inpatient treatment allows for a more intensive treatment program without the need for overnight supervision in a hospital setting. Partial hospitalization may include patient education and training specific to a condition and occupational therapy if needed. 

Intensive outpatient program services

Intensive outpatient program services provide more structured, comprehensive treatment and support to manage mental health or substance abuse disorders. Commons services included with Intensive outpatient programs include group and individual therapy, life skills training, yoga and meditation techniques, and medication management.

Coverage for inpatient mental health services

Inpatient mental health services include mental health treatment in a general or psychiatric hospital. Medicare coverage for inpatient mental health services is similar to coverage for typical hospital stays and includes coverage for semi-private rooms, meals, general nursing, medications, and other hospital services and supplies that are part of the inpatient stay. 

How much can you expect to pay for mental health services with Medicare?

Outpatient mental health

For most outpatient services, after you meet your Part B deductible, Medicare will cover 80% of the cost of covered services. You’re responsible for the remaining 20% (your coinsurance). The costs of the following services are covered differently.


Medicare will pay for one depression screening per year and one alcohol misuse screening per year if your healthcare provider accepts Medicare assignment.

Opioid use disorder treatment

Once you’ve met your Part B deductible, you won’t owe anything for opioid use disorder treatments—as long as you receive them from a provider who’s enrolled in Medicare.

Inpatient mental health

For inpatient mental health service coverage, Medicare doesn’t start to pay its share until after you’ve met the Part A deductible for each new benefit period. Because you may visit the hospital and have multiple benefit periods in one year, you may have to meet the deductible multiple times in a single year. Once you’ve met your deductible, there’s no daily copayment until you’ve been hospitalized for over 60 days. 

Beginning on day 61 of your inpatient stay, you are responsible for a daily copayment of $400 a day for days 61-90. Beginning on day 91, daily copayments increase to $800, and each day counts toward your lifetime reserve days. Once you use up your total lifetime reserve of 60 days, you are responsible for 100% of the cost of inpatient hospital stays. 

Medicare beneficiaries receiving inpatient care are also responsible for 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for mental health services from doctors and other providers they receive while hospitalized. The number of these visits can vary based on each individual’s specific needs.

How many mental health therapy sessions does Medicare cover?

For mental health therapy sessions in an outpatient setting (most commonly doctor’s office or virtual visit), Medicare helps pay for as many sessions as you need. However, you do need to cover certain out-of-pocket costs. Once you meet your Part B deductible, you’ll pay 20% of the cost of the therapy visit. To minimize these costs, consider enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan, which can help cover this coinsurance. 

What types of mental health providers can you see for Medicare coverage?

Medicare covers the following mental health professionals who can provide a variety of different services:

  • Psychiatrists and other related doctors

  • Clinical psychologists 

  • Clinical social workers

  • Clinical nurses 

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Physician assistants 

  • Marriage and family therapists

  • Mental health counselors 

Remember that Medicare only provides mental health coverage if your health care provider accepts Medicare. 

Does Medicare cover depression or anxiety medications?

Medicare Part D is responsible for covering most prescription drugs, including medications to treat mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. Medicare prescription drug plans have a formulary of drugs that they cover—make sure that you enroll in a plan that covers the medications you need. If your situation changes, you can always switch to a plan that includes wider coverage. The Annual Open Enrollment Period is the best time to switch drug plans. 

Your Medicare Part B insurance covers medication management and some prescription drugs that you couldn’t administer yourself, like injections. 

Mental health costs differ if you have Medigap or Medicare Advantage

If you have a Medigap plan, you’ll pay significantly less for mental health services. To understand what you’ll pay, explore the benefits offered by each Medigap plan type

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it must have at least the same level of coverage as Original Medicare.The cost of Medicare Advantage plans vary depending on the specific plan. 

If you ever have any questions about what’s included with your specific Medicare coverage, we’re here to help! Chapter’s Medicare Advisors can help you understand your insurance and explore other options.

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