Advocating for Extended Health Insurance Coverage for RCCs and CCCs in British Columbia

Torn paper with word are you covered

In today’s evolving landscape of mental health care in British Columbia (BC), a critical gap exists. While many are fortunate to have extended health insurance covering their mental health services, many face limitations when seeking care. The present coverage confines many to services by Registered Social Workers or Registered Psychologists, leaving out a substantial group of skilled professionals: Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCCs) and Canadian Certified Counsellors (CCCs).

Understanding the nuances of insurance coverage can be daunting. Here, we aim to demystify the current state of health insurance coverage for mental health services in BC and underline the importance of advocating for more inclusive options.

  • Current Coverage Landscape: At the heart of the challenge is that many insurance plans, while covering mental health, specify the types of professionals they cover. As a result, many in BC find that services rendered by RCCs and CCCs are not part of their extended health insurance benefits.
  • The Need for Inclusivity: Mental health is a nuanced field; finding the right therapeutic fit is paramount to effective treatment. Including RCCs, CCCs, and out-of-province colleges, such as Registered Psychotherapists, in insurance plans offers individuals more choices. With these choices comes the opportunity for clients to find a therapeutic alliance that truly serves their needs.

For those seeking specialized trauma therapy, like the services provided at Clayre Sessoms Psychotherapy, this gap in insurance coverage can be a substantial barrier. Everyone deserves access to the specific mental health services they require in order to heal, grow, and thrive.

Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the regulatory background, understand the benefits of including RCCs and CCCs in health insurance coverage, and provide actionable steps you can take to advocate for more comprehensive mental health coverage.

Understanding the Regulatory Background

Navigating the world of mental health care in BC means understanding the regulatory frameworks that govern professionals. So, why are certain professionals like Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCCs) or Canadian Certified Counsellors (CCCs) not universally covered by insurance plans, while others are? Here’s a brief overview to shed some light:

  • Collegiate Affiliations: In BC, Registered Social Workers belong to the BC College of Social Workers, while Registered Psychotherapists are affiliated with the College of Psychologists of British Columbia. Due to these recognized affiliations, many extended health insurance plans cover services rendered by these professionals.
  • Emerging Recognitions: While Registered Psychotherapists (Qualifying) from regions outside BC, like those associated with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, offer their expertise in online therapy, they face funding challenges due to provincial discrepancies.
  • The BCACC’s Role: The BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC) has been at the forefront of self-regulation for its members through a voluntary model for over three decades. As a representative body, the BCACC has ensured that RCCs maintain rigorous standards of practice. Many institutions and health service providers within BC widely recognize and trust their designation.
  • Legislative Changes: Winter 2022 introduced Bill 36, the Health Professions and Occupations Act. This bill signifies a potential evolution in how mental health professionals are recognized and regulated. Notably, the bill mentions the government’s intention to begin regulating counsellors, which could play a pivotal role in expanding insurance coverage shortly.

It’s essential to understand that the distinction in insurance coverage isn’t due to a difference in the quality of care these professionals provide. RCCs, CCCs, and Registered Psychotherapists undergo thorough training and are held to high standards of practice, ensuring clients receive care that is both effective and ethical. The challenge lies primarily in the regulatory recognition and subsequent inclusion in extended health insurance plans.

The following section will explore the tangible benefits of expanding insurance coverage to include RCCs and CCCs, ensuring clients have a broader choice and greater access to mental health care.

The Benefits of Including RCCs and CCCs in Health Insurance Coverage

Expanding insurance coverage to incorporate Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCCs) and Canadian Certified Counsellors (CCCs) isn’t just about inclusivity; it’s about ensuring that clients in BC have the best possible access to mental health care. Let’s break down the benefits:

  • More Choices for Clients: Mental health is deeply personal, and therapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Clients benefit when they have a range of professionals to choose from, ensuring they find the right therapeutic relationship tailored to their unique needs.
  • Cost-Effective Solutions: A notable advantage of broadening coverage to include RCCs and CCCs is the potential for cost savings. On average, sessions with RCCs and CCCs might begin at $150-$200 with sliding scale options. In comparison, services from Registered Psychologists can range from $200 to $250 per session. Offering clients the option of RCCs and CCCs could provide a more cost-effective solution without compromising the quality of care.
  • Enhanced Accessibility: With more than 70% of all counselling practitioners in BC belonging to the BCACC and holding the RCC designation, clients have a wider pool of professionals to consult. Broadening coverage ensures clients have more options close to their location, reducing travel time or facilitating more accessible access to online sessions.
  • Dedicated Training in Counselling Psychology: Both RCCs and CCCs possess a Master’s level education, specifically in counselling psychology. Their specialized training equips them to handle various mental health challenges effectively.
  • Reduced Wait Times: With more professionals available for clients to choose from, wait times for appointments can decrease. Prompt mental health care is essential, and clients should never feel placed on a lengthy waiting list, especially in times of crisis.

Expanding coverage to include RCCs and CCCs is about acknowledging the value these professionals bring and ensuring clients in BC are equipped with the best resources to navigate their mental health. It’s about placing client well-being at the forefront and making sure they have the most suitable and accessible therapeutic relationships available to them.

In the upcoming section, we’ll be able to guide you through actionable steps that clients can take to advocate for including RCCs and CCCs in their extended health insurance plans.

Action Steps: Advocating for the Inclusion of RCCs and CCCs

For those who recognize the importance of broadening health insurance coverage to encompass RCCs and CCCs, there are concrete steps to be taken. Advocacy at both individual and collective levels can catalyze change and help ensure more clients have the coverage they need to pursue meaningful therapeutic relationships. Here’s what you can do:

  • Review Your Current Plan: Before initiating any action, take a moment to review your existing health insurance plan thoroughly. Understand what is and isn’t covered, specifically concerning counselling services.
  • Draft a Formal Letter: If RCCs and CCCs aren’t covered under your current plan, compose a formal letter to your insurance provider. Highlight the benefits of including these professionals in the coverage and explain why this change is essential for you and many others. Use the sample letter provided later in this blog as a guide.
  • Engage with HR: Your workplace’s Human Resources (HR) department can be a pivotal ally. Engage with them, express your concerns, and share your research and understanding. HR departments often have the power to advocate for changes in employee benefit plans.
  • Gather Support from Colleagues: The power of collective voice cannot be understated. Discuss the issue with your colleagues, gather their insights, and garner support. A joint request from multiple employees can have a more substantial impact.
  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of updates from the BCACC and legislative changes. As the province of BC continues its work in regulating clinical counsellors, being informed will allow you to advocate effectively and understand the broader landscape.
  • Spread the Word: Use your offline and online networks to spread awareness about this issue. The more individuals are informed and taking action, the more significant the potential for change.
  • Feedback and Follow-Up: After sending a request or engaging in a dialogue with your insurance provider or HR department, don’t let the conversation end there. If needed, follow up, provide more information, and ask for updates on deliberations or decisions.

Remember, advocating for change is a journey, not a destination. While it might take time to see policy shifts, every effort counts. The collective push for inclusive and comprehensive mental health coverage can benefit countless individuals in BC, ensuring they get the care they deserve.

The following section will provide a sample letter to help you advance your advocacy efforts.

Sample Letter: Requesting Insurance Coverage for RCC and CCC Counselling Services

Whether you’re a potential client seeking to have your therapy sessions covered or an advocate looking to champion broader insurance coverage, having a sample letter can streamline the process; below is a comprehensive letter template tailored to articulate the importance of including Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCCs) and Canadian Certified Counsellors (CCCs) in extended health insurance plans.

To [Name/Department/Whom It May Concern]:

Subject: Request for Amendment of Health Plan to Include RCC and CCC Counselling Services

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the limitations of our current health plan concerning counselling services. I’ve observed that our existing coverage primarily focuses on services provided by [Registered Psychologist or Registered Social Worker], excluding Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC) and Canadian Certified Counsellors (CCC).

With growing mental health awareness and the increasing demand for therapeutic services, we must diversify our coverage to include a broader range of qualified professionals. RCCs and CCCs have demonstrated a high standard of expertise, and their inclusion in insurance plans can offer more choices to individuals seeking therapy.

Moreover, incorporating RCCs and CCCs could be economically beneficial. Their session fees, which typically range from $150 – $200 with sliding scale options, are considerably lower than those of Registered Psychologists, which can range from $200 – $250 per session. By expanding coverage to include these professionals, we offer a broader range of therapeutic options and potentially save on insurance payouts.

It is worth noting that RCCs and CCCs possess a Masters-level education with a concentrated focus on counselling psychology. Their rigorous training equips them to provide exceptional care, parallel to the services of Registered Social Workers. Given these factors, the current exclusion of RCCs and CCCs curtails the accessibility of therapeutic services for many individuals.

In light of my own experiences, I’ve engaged with an RCC whose services have proven invaluable. These services should be recognized and covered under our Extended Health Benefits Program.

I request a reconsideration of our current health plan parameters. By embracing a more inclusive approach to mental health coverage, we can better cater to the diverse needs of our community.

I appreciate your quick attention to this pressing matter and hope for a positive resolution.

Warm regards,
[Contact Information]

Please adapt this letter as per your specific circumstances and needs. By personalizing and detailing your experiences, you’re more likely to resonate with the decision-makers and encourage a shift in policy.

In the next section, we’ll share another sample letter from Orchard Valley Counselling Services of Kelowna, BC, to give you more guidance and perspective.

Another Perspective: Sample Letter from Orchard Valley Counselling Services

Different voices and angles can be pivotal in stressing the significance of an issue. Orchard Valley Counselling Services of Kelowna, BC, also recognizes the need to advocate for broader coverage and has crafted its letter version. This variation may resonate differently with specific individuals or organizations, so consider both when approaching your insurance provider.

To [Name/Department/Whom It May Concern]:

Subject: Inclusion of Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC) and Canadian Certified Counsellors (CCC) in our Health Coverage Plan

I hope you are doing well. I am contacting you to discuss a pressing concern about our current health insurance provisions.

I understand that our health plan predominantly covers therapeutic services provided by [Registered Psychologist or Registered Social Worker]. This restrictive scope, unfortunately, limits the options available to individuals like me seeking practical and tailored mental health support.

I want to bring to your attention the credentials and the value that Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC) and Canadian Certified Counsellors (CCC) bring to the therapeutic landscape. These professionals undergo rigorous training, gaining expertise commensurate with the standards set by our currently recognized practitioners. More importantly, their inclusion in our insurance plan would offer a more comprehensive range of choices to those seeking therapy, ensuring we can find the best fit for our needs.

Economically, acknowledging RCCs and CCCs can be advantageous. Their professional fees are often lower, offering a cost-effective alternative without compromising the quality of care.

I recently began sessions with an Orchard Valley Counselling Services counsellor in Kelowna, BC. The progress and insights I have gleaned from these sessions underscore the value of broadening our coverage to include RCCs and CCCs.

I would appreciate your considering an update to our current health insurance parameters. Mental health is a critical component of our overall well-being, and it is paramount that our insurance plans reflect the diverse and evolving therapeutic options available today.

I appreciate your consideration and understanding. I am optimistic that we can enhance our mental health coverage with your support.

[Contact Information]

Feel free to modify and adjust this template as you see fit. The more personalized your letter, the more significant the impact it may have on facilitating change. In our next section, we’ll delve into the practical steps you can take to bolster your advocacy efforts and truly make a difference.

Advocacy Beyond Letters: Real Steps for Real Change

Advocacy is a journey, starting with a letter but not ending there. To achieve tangible results, a comprehensive strategy is necessary. Strengthen your advocacy for the inclusion of RCCs and CCCs in extended health insurance coverage with these practical steps:

  1. Open a Dialogue: In face-to-face conversations with your HR or insurance provider, personal interactions often leave a lasting impact.
  2. Stay Informed: Be updated on legislative shifts, particularly concerning the HPOA. Harness the power of knowledge from organizations like BCACC to back your advocacy.
  3. Narrate Experiences: Testimonials from those who’ve benefited from RCCs and CCCs can provide a compelling case.
  4. Unite and Advocate: Join or create coalitions within your community. A collective voice magnifies the message.
  5. Digital Advocacy: Harness the power of platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. Remember to maintain respect and accuracy.
  6. Commit to the Cause: Advocacy is a marathon. Stay persistent, revisit your communication efforts, and continue the push.
  7. Collaborate with Advocacy Groups: Engage with mental health advocacy entities for added resources and strategies.

In essence, championing a more comprehensive mental health insurance coverage is a unified mission. Through sustained efforts, we envision a future where quality care is accessible.

Our Collective Tapestry: Well-being as the Centerpiece

Life’s intricate patterns often highlight our quests for well-being and rights. This isn’t merely a sideline but our story’s central theme. Taking a stand—for our mind, body, or spirit—is not just self-care; it’s an assertion of self-worth.

More inclusive coverage sends waves through society. We foster individual healing and empathetic communities by championing robust mental health support. The journey to comprehensive care promises healing and societal and economic gains. It paints a picture where care is accessible, and societies prosper.

Our message is clear: A thriving society values and prioritizes the well-being of its people.

Make a Difference Today

The resonance of our collective voice can bring about enduring change. So, we would like to ask you to act. Utilize our sample letters or craft one that speaks your truth. Be the spark.

And remember, the ripple effect starts with you. Sharing this post could mean more than you think, amplifying our call for an inclusive world.

Join us on this journey. Together, let’s stride towards a brighter, all-encompassing future.

Disclaimer: This blog shares general information only, not professional advice or recommendations. Consult healthcare providers for personal guidance. Decisions based on content are the reader's responsibility. Thank you.

Clayre runs a group practice of three queer and trans therapists, including youth therapist Audrey Wolfe, RCC, LGBT therapist Camber Giberson, RCC, CCC, and gender-affirming therapist Clayre Sessoms, RP, RCT, RCC, CCC, ATR-P. Work with us: book a session.