The Cost of TMS Without Insurance: Your Complete Guide
You’ve tried other treatments, and done your research on TMS therapy. Now you’re thinking about the bottom line: how much is TMS going to cost you? TMS is FDA-approved for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other diagnoses. So for many people, the cost is covered by insurance. But what if you’re uninsured or don’t qualify? To answer all these questions, here’s a comprehensive guide on paying for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
TMS has helped thousands of people struggling with treatment-resistant depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other ailments. Its success rates are comparable to SSRIs. 50-60% of people with treatment-resistant mental illness have been helped with TMS even when medications didn’t help. And up to a third of these people experience complete symptom remission.
TMS therapy starts with a consultation, then a mapping session. The length of your regimen is specific to you, but 36 treatment sessions are standard. Patients go in for treatment five times a week, and each of these sessions lasts about 40 minutes. Some patients need follow-up sessions afterward.
TMS is a newer treatment, and it’s mostly been researched in people who have tried other treatments first. Not everyone qualifies for coverage under insurance. And many people are uninsured in the United States. There’s a lot of mystery around what medical services cost, and you may have been slammed with a hefty bill in the past.
That’s not a fun feeling.
We want you to understand what you can expect to pay before you commit to TMS. We wish that no one had to pay out-of-pocket for life-changing medical services, but that’s the reality for many people. At KarmaTMS, we want our patients to experience mental and financial wellness. That’s why we made this comprehensive guide to paying for TMS Therapy.
First, let’s get clear on the insurers that do cover TMS Therapy.
What Insurers Cover TMS Therapy?
TMS is considered medically necessary, so it’s covered by most major insurers. If you qualify for coverage, you may still pay for a percentage of TMS therapy – depending on your deductible and plan. Check out the insurers that KarmaTMS accepts:
- Anthem Blue Cross
- Blue Shield
- United Healthcare
- Magellan Health
But just because an insurer offers coverage for TMS, doesn’t mean that everyone will qualify. So let’s talk about what types of patients are covered by insurance for TMS.
Qualifying for TMS Therapy Under Insurance
Here are the main things to know about qualifying for insurance coverage of TMS:
- While most insurers cover TMS therapy, they don’t all cover it for every condition. TMS is used to treat bipolar disorder, chronic pain, anxiety, and more. But most policies only cover it for Major Depressive Disorder.
- You’ll likely need more than a diagnosis to get TMS covered by insurance. Most coverage providers require that patients try at least two medications before they fund TMS therapy. Some require trials of typical and atypical antidepressants as well as talk therapy.
People with moderate to severe MDD – who have tried other treatment options – have the best odds of qualifying for TMS coverage. There are also some specific reasons you may not qualify. Here are some major reasons an insurer won’t cover your TMS Therapy:
- You are pregnant or nursing
- You are at risk of suicide
- You are actively using a substance, such as alcohol or opioids
- You have a history of a neurological condition, like a seizure disorder or epilepsy
- You have an implanted device that is sensitive to magnets, such as a cochlear implant or stent
- You have bullet fragments in your body, which may also be sensitive to magnets
Many of these disqualifiers are short-term. For example, if you’re actively using a substance, you may go to rehab and detox to qualify for TMS. Similarly, pregnant and nursing patients may qualify for TMS after giving birth or finishing breastfeeding.
Now that you understand more about who qualifies (or doesn’t qualify) for TMS coverage let’s get into what TMS costs – depending on whether you qualify or not.
What Will I Pay for TMS if I Qualify for Insurance Coverage?
What you pay depends on your insurer, your plan, and whether or not you’ve reached your deductible this year. Different types of TMS therapy may have different costs. If you need a precise estimate, we recommend contacting your insurer. But most insured patients pay roughly between $10 and $70 per session.
Depending on your outcomes, you may need up to 36 TMS sessions after your first mapping session to complete a round of TMS. So in total, expect to pay up to $360-$2500 for TMS with insurance coverage.
We understand that even with insurance, TMS can be a big investment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the better life that TMS can offer. We offer payment plans for patients to space out the cost of TMS to help you fit this cost more comfortably in with your other expenses.
But what if you don’t qualify, or you don’t have insurance at all? Let’s talk about what you can expect to pay out of pocket for TMS.
What Will I Pay for TMS if I Don’t Qualify or Don’t Have Insurance?
In the United States, it’s estimated that 30 million people are uninsured in 2023. It’s unfortunate, but the cost may be a big barrier for these people to access care – whether it’s TMS, medication, or another treatment.
What you’ll pay for TMS without coverage depends on where you go for therapy. Most providers offer individual sessions between $400-$500. And again, the number of sessions you’ll need depends on how you respond to treatment. In total, studies show that people pay $2000-$5000 for an entire regimen of TMS.
But despite this cost, research has shown that TMS is a cost-effective treatment compared to SSRIs. Many experts believe that TMS should be closer to a first-line treatment for depression and other diagnoses because it’s shown to be so effective.2 But TMS hasn’t just been helpful for people with depression. Let’s talk about the research for people with other diagnoses.
TMS Therapy Off-Label: Options for People Without Depression
While TMS is used for treatment-resistant depression, there are several other diagnoses that it’s shown to help. TMS is also FDA-approved for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But there are several other diagnoses that it’s used for “off-label”. Here are a few of the major diagnoses that TMS therapy treats off-label:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Substance Use Disorder
- Panic Disorder
TMS therapy goes beyond depression. Yet because TMS isn’t FDA-approved for these diagnoses, patients will have to pay out of pocket for therapy.
Another off-label option is personalized TMS. Therapy is getting more tailored as machines become more precise. That means we can target specific brain areas depending on a patient’s symptoms, even if they don’t fit the typical profile of a diagnosis. This exciting new area is opening up more avenues for people to feel better because of TMS. Again, personalized TMS is an “off-label” use, so it isn’t covered by insurance. But we hope that will change soon.
The Cost of TMS: Future Outlooks and Options
TMS is a cutting-edge treatment that has helped many people. An investment in your mental health is an investment in your future. We think the cost of TMS is worth the payoff of a better life. Depression has long-term consequences for your health. Getting TMS can help you avoid these consequences.
Unfortunately, many people who can benefit from TMS therapy won’t be able to access it because of the cost. But there’s a ton of ongoing research into TMS treatment for other diagnoses. Positive research outcomes may lead to coverage expansion for millions of people who need TMS. People with diagnoses other than major depressive disorder may qualify for this treatment soon.
But what if you’re looking for TMS therapy now? What should you do to get clarity on the expense and benefits of TMS?
Next Steps for Understanding TMS Payments
If you’re looking for concrete information about the cost of TMS, take these next steps:
- Call your insurance coverage provider to understand if you qualify
- If you’re in the LA area, call KarmaTMS to learn more about what you can expect to pay for TMS therapy through our integrative medicine clinic.
Psst. . . if you’ve got questions about TMS in LA, see our guide.
KarmaTMS: More Than a TMS Clinic
At KarmaTMS, we proudly offer TMS treatment to patients with a range of mental health problems. But we’re more than just a TMS clinic. We offer it alongside integrative psychiatric treatments, like:
- Nutrition consults
- Medication management
- Supportive psychotherapy
- And more
We partner with patients who are active in their own mental wellness journey and are willing to make lifestyle changes to improve their mental health.
If you’re looking for a partner in your journey for a better life – we’d love to help you reach your goals. Click here to call us and get started on your integrative TMS path.
1)Adam P. Stern, M. D. (2020, October 27). Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): Hope for stubborn depression. Harvard Health. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation-for-depression-2018022313335#:~:text=Does%20TMS%20work%3F,their%20symptoms%20go%20away%20completely.
2)Perera T, George MS, Grammer G, Janicak PG, Pascual-Leone A, Wirecki TS. The clinical TMS society consensus review and treatment recommendations for TMS therapy for major depressive disorder. Brain Stimulation. 2016; 9:336–346. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2016.03.010
3)Voigt J, Carpenter L, Leuchter A. Cost effectiveness analysis comparing repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to antidepressant medications after a first treatment failure for major depressive disorder in newly diagnosed patients – A lifetime analysis. PLoS One. 2017 Oct 26;12(10):e0186950. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186950. PMID: 29073256; PMCID: PMC5658110.