I'm a 21-year-old college student who's currently working almost 1000 miles away from home (From CA, currently residing in Seattle, WA) for an internship. I don't know exactly why, but I am extremely unhappy with the current state of my life, and I believe that I have a lot of mental health problems surfacing that I should get addressed by a therapist.

Although I am fully capable of paying out of pocket, I want to save money where I can. So, I want to check if therapy is covered in some way under my health insurance. My health insurance plan is owned by my parents and I do not know any of the details regarding it.

So my dilemma is that I want to see if I can save money on therapy, but I'm not quite ready to bring up this sensitive subject with my parents. They have a tendency to overreact, so I don't want them losing sleep over my personal issues that I am actively looking for help with.

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    This doesn't directly answer your question but have you checked in with your college to see if they offer mental health support? Mine did. Regardless, please add some details about your location so that we can better address this. I'm guessing you're in the US? You may also be better served asking an open question rather than a yes/no question. Something along the lines of "How can I talk to my parents about whether my health insurance covers mental health?"
    – Catija
    Aug 10, 2017 at 23:53
  • I considered using the health plan provided by my college, but they only offer coverage for local businesses as far as I know. I go to college near home, which is far from where I currently reside. Regarding the rewording of the question, I considered going with the one you proposed; however, it seems that it's very much a possibility that it wouldn't be a good idea to discuss this with my parents at this time. Lastly, I've added my location to the OP. Thanks for the feedback!
    – banhfun
    Aug 10, 2017 at 23:58
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    I don't actually mean health plan... at my university they actually have counselors... many of them are the psychology masters or doctorate students. Thanks for adding the other details and letting me know about your question.
    – Catija
    Aug 11, 2017 at 0:04
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    Have you been in touch with your insurance provider? I think it would definitely be worth explaining the situation to them and asking. Even if they tell you "because it's administered by your parents we need to talk to them" but they might be able to give you the name of the policy you're covered by and you could potentially locate a fact sheet that tells you what is covered and what isn't.
    – Vocoder
    Aug 11, 2017 at 0:22
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    @Vocoder actually, considering that the op is over 18, I don't know that their parents even need to be involved, provided the op can cover any costs like deductibles. A direct call to the provider to ask about coverage benefits is a good start.
    – Catija
    Aug 11, 2017 at 0:47

2 Answers 2


You wrote, "My health insurance plan is owned by my parents". This is not true. You are covered by their plan but as an adult, your medical history should not (probably cannot) be shared without your permission.

The law defining this in the US is HIPAA. With that information, you should contact the insurance company directly. Your insurance card will have contact information.
They can tell you what coverage is available, and you should ask if there is a possibility that claims info. would be sent to your parents (or how otherwise to keep your treatment information confidential).

As for the situation with your parents, if you are comfortable discussing your health issues with them you should. I think most parents worry about their children regardless, and would certainly want you to be healthy rather than unhealthy. You have to decide this part based on your relationship with them.

Other options might be paying for any such health care on your own (as you mentioned), or getting your own private insurance.

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    So my problem wasn't really an interpersonal one, but rather more of an ignorance of how health insurance actually works. I do in fact have an insurance card with contact info, so I'll take the lead on that. Thanks!
    – banhfun
    Aug 11, 2017 at 17:39

As real estate guru, Robert Allen would say, "there are only two answers to the question, and one of them is great."

More to the point, your parents would want to know that "I am extremely unhappy with the current state of my life, and I believe that I have a lot of mental health problems surfacing that I should get addressed by a therapist." If they knew, they would do everything to get you a therapist, insurance coverage or no.

Yes, they might overreact, but you really need to take them into your confidence at such a critical time. This is no time to prevent them from "losing sleep." Instead, it might bring you all together, because there are few things that they care about more in life than you.

This is going to come out sooner or later. It would be better for everyone concerned if it came out sooner. That way everyone will have more time to adjust. The longer you wait, the more damage there will be when things do come to a head.

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    I disagree: it isn't necessarily a good idea for the OP to tell their parents. If they have a tendency to overreact they might go and make the problems about themselves or their parenting and then the OP has to take care of the parents' feelings as well as their own. That's a source of stress that can be avoided. It's really for the OP to judge... Aug 11, 2017 at 10:07
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    @AllTheKingsHorses pretty much hit the nail on the head. I'm intentionally withholding my problem from my parents because I believe it would escalate the issue further. I do plan to inform them about it when it is appropriate. Approaching how to relay this news to my parents could probably lead to another IPS post.
    – banhfun
    Aug 11, 2017 at 17:43

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