Here’s Why Insurance Won’t Cover Your Life Coaching Sessions (and What Is Covered Instead)

So you’re considering hiring a life coach and finally start taking steps towards achieving your goals! But on your journey to find a life coach, you may start wondering:

Does insurance cover life coaching? 

After all, many insurance providers cover the cost of other providers such as psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, and more. So it makes sense to look into insurance for life coaching, too.

However, life coaching and therapy for treatment’s sake are two different beasts altogether. Let’s explore how health insurance works for treatments that involve therapy and how life coaching comes into play.

First, what is a life coach?

Are you still unsure what life coaching means in the first place? Let’s discuss it!

A life coach is a professional who works in the wellness industry. Their goal is to help you make progress in your life to overcome roadblocks, limiting beliefs, and other challenges. Working with a life coach can help you achieve fulfillment in one or more aspects of your life.

When someone works with a life coach, they’ll guide you through several steps, including:

  • Clarifying your values and goals
  • Shedding light on your current mindset
  • Creating an action plan to achieve your goals while remaining in line with your values
  • Providing some perspective on what you’re currently struggling with

While there are generalist life coaches, many people seek a coach for a specific aspect of their lives. For example, you may want to work with a coach for:

  • Career development
  • Navigating relationships in a healthier way
  • Reorienting your mindset
  • Getting support on your health and fitness journey
  • Going through a daunting shift in your life, such as a career change or divorce
  • Getting in touch with your spiritual self
  • Overcoming financial issues or becoming better at handling your finances

Not all coaches have the same approach to helping their clients. There are several coaching styles they can adopt, including but not limited to:

In several cases, life coaches get certified to do their work. Some may even get degrees and graduate degrees to get more experience in their field, although that’s not required. 

How does health insurance for therapy work?

In the United States, not all companies are required to provide health insurance. This is the case for small businesses.

However, companies with 50 or more employees legally need to provide their employees with health insurance. But that insurance isn’t required to cover services such as therapy or life coaching. It may only cover certain medical expenses.

If you have health insurance because of your job, you may have coverage for therapy. But it’s also possible that you don’t. Everyone’s insurance plan differs, so you’d have to look at how your plan works to know if you’re eligible.

But keep in mind that even people who have coverage often decide to get therapy and pay for it out of pocket. That’s because insurance will usually require a medical diagnosis before they reimburse you for your treatment.

Not everyone has the means for this. In some cases, people just want to see a therapist and don’t want to have to jump through hoops or get an official diagnosis. 

And not everyone goes to therapy because of a diagnosis in the first place! It can take a long time to see the right specialists and get an official diagnosis, but some people prefer to seek therapy before this process is over. Yes, you’ll have to pay out of pocket, but you won’t need to jump through hoops to get there. 

So, in short, some people can get their treatments covered if their insurance covers them — but only with a medical doctor’s diagnosis. 

Is life coaching covered by insurance?

So now, to address the elephant in the room:

Will your insurance provider reimburse you for life coaching services?

If your insurance covers therapy, it will usually work for these types of services:

  • Talk therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Outpatient sessions with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker
  • Addiction treatment
  • Psychiatric emergencies
  • Dual diagnosis treatments (such as addiction and depression that coexist together)
  • Inpatient services
  • Medical detox services
  • Online therapy or telemedicine

Notice that all of these services treat disorders that come with a diagnosis. While you can get talk therapy and CBT without a diagnosis, most insurance providers will only cover the cost when you have a diagnosis.

Unfortunately, life coaching is rarely covered, since it doesn’t fall under the umbrella of any of these treatments or services.

The only exception that may help you get life coaching covered is if your doctor prescribes life coaching directly. Your doctor may choose to do this for processes like weight loss mandated for health reasons or smoking cessation. But life coaching, in this case, will also get supervised by a physician.

There are some exceptions when you work for certain employers. Many employers will offer well-being programs to their employees, including access to life coaches. But this isn’t through insurance, and it doesn’t apply to just any life coaches. Employers will usually have a network of service providers you can choose from. 

Why does insurance cover therapy and not life coaching? 

Health insurance has a predetermined list of disorders it will cover. These are entered as codes in a system. If a code doesn’t exist in the system, it won’t get covered.

Nobody said the system was perfect. But, for the moment, that’s how it works.

If you want to see a therapist without one of these issues, insurance won’t cover it. But it can get covered if you have one of the predetermined disorders, including but not limited to:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Bipolar affective disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Behavioral or emotional disorders for children

So why can’t this apply to life coaching?

Here’s the thing — life coaches don’t usually treat people for disorders. Think of it this way — when you have a disorder, you have a more urgent problem that needs to be solved. But when you have aspirations, you don’t necessarily have anything “wrong” — you may just be looking for more! 

Also, life coaches aren’t regulated like therapists are. To become a therapist, you have to go through a specific education path and stay in regulation. If someone tries to hire a therapist who isn’t regulated, insurance providers won’t cover those expenses. And because life coaches aren’t regulated like therapists are, insurance providers cannot perform the same type of checks.

Additionally, many insurance providers will require the therapy to be a medically necessary treatment if you have an illness, disorder, or injury. Overcoming obstacles and reaching your goals to live a more fulfilled life is important — our team certainly agrees with this! But insurance doesn’t see this as a “necessary” process.

Insurance rather wants to know:

Can you function without it? 

If so, they won’t cover it.

So, do I need therapy or life coaching?

Now that you understand what your insurance will cover, should you work with a therapist after all?

It depends on your current needs! 

First off, remember that therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are considered healthcare professionals. On the other hand, life coaches are wellness professionals.

A therapist will help you zero in on your past trauma to help you heal. They’ll also help you come up with healthy coping mechanisms for any mental health disorders you may have.

Therapy usually focuses on introspection to help you resolve this past trauma. A therapist will analyze your past and try to understand how it contributes to the way you behave today.

On the other hand, life coaches are focused on what’s ahead in your future. They’ll work with you to uncover problematic behaviors and mindsets that are stopping you from getting where you want to go. But they’ll also help you set realistic goals and work with you to achieve them. 

If you have a mental illness or disorder, you need help from a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Same thing if you have trauma to overcome! If you’re in a situation where you need urgent help, a life coach isn’t for you, either.

But if you want to work on yourself and start achieving more, work with a life coach instead. 

If you’re feeling stuck and wish you could get more fulfillment out of your life, a life coach can help you get unstuck!

Here’s another way to put it:

If you want to feel better, find a therapist.

If you want to do better, hire a life coach.

Work with a life coach who gets you 

Even though insurance providers don’t usually cover the cost of life coaching, it doesn’t mean the investment isn’t worth it. If you’re in a position to hire a life coach, it can be one of the most worthwhile investments you’ll ever make!

But to feel good about your investment, you need to find a life coach with whom you vibe on every level — someone who truly gets you. Synergy can make or break your relationship with a life coach. That’s why you should carefully consider your options when choosing a life coach.

With Coach Compare, you can find your perfect coach — and it’s free! Start your search today.

does insurance cover life coaching