Virtual Private Practice and You!

By Allison Puryear, LCSW, CEDS on November 7, 2022

Someone recently told me that they would leave their group practice so long as it is possible to have an entirely virtual private practice, even post-COVID. This person then proceeded to ask me if it was possible. So, is it? The answer is—drumroll please—HECK YES! A post-COVID, fully virtual practice is entirely possible. The reason I know this is because a pre-COVID virtual private practice was totally possible. Thanks to all the pivoting that therapists and clients have done, it’s even more accepted and expected as an offering than ever before!

One thing you really need to consider here, though, is insurance. As far as insurance goes for a fully virtual practice, it just totally depends. I live in North Carolina and the largest insurer in the state has covered virtual since well before COVID. Some insurance companies in other states have given notice that they won't cover virtual sessions after a certain date. That being said, many of those states have set dates before and bumped them. However, with COVID vaccinations widely available, insurance companies probably won’t pay for online therapy if they don’t want to, so be sure to check in with the insurance you're paneled with by contacting provider relations.

Let's explore the options:

Perfect world (aka insurance plans you accept always cover virtual, and you go into your own private practice):

Again, make sure you get approved by the insurance companies in your practice before taking this leap. Also, make sure you look over all paperwork you signed with the group practice you’re in (if applicable) so you leave properly. If there's a non-compete clause, do you plan to fight that (most don't hold water, FYI) or start fresh? Give the notice required and build all you can until then.

Not-so perfect world (aka insurance doesn’t cover virtual):

If this is the case, then you have a choice to make. I'm assuming the group practice you’re in (again, if applicable) would require you to work in person if insurance stops covering virtual. What matters more to you—continuing to take insurance or being virtual? Many people who start out taking insurance feel like private pay isn't possible where they live or for the population they serve. If you're virtual, you can see the whole state. I could almost guarantee that out of your whole state there are at least 15-25 ideal clients who can pay your fee. You just need to market well, which is just a learned skill, not a personality trait you have to change. 

Now, if you accept insurance because that feels morally or ethically right to you, I'm not here to talk you out of that. However, if you're taking insurance solely because you don't know how to get clients without it, know that you absolutely can.


 

* The content of this post is intended to serve as general advice and information. It is not to be taken as legal advice and may not account for all rules and regulations in every jurisdiction. For legal advice, please contact an attorney.

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