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What Are the Different Psychiatrist Fees?

By Susan Abe
Updated: Feb 10, 2024

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has completed additional training during a psychiatric residency and has successfully completed psychiatry boards — or examinations — in his or her field, and is thus "board certified." Psychiatrists specialize in diseases of the mind and cognition, or physical diseases with psychiatric symptoms. Generally, there are two broad areas of treatment that psychiatrists practice. Some work primarily in talk therapy or counseling, while others primarily specialize in treatment of psychiatric disorders with medications, known as psychopharmacology. Psychiatrist fees vary according to the usual duration of service and may include new patient evaluations, psychotherapy sessions, or even telephone check-in evaluations of established patients.

Psychiatrist fees almost always include a one-time new patient or initial evaluation billing. New patient fees are among the most costly and may be two to three times the cost of established patient visits. This type of billing cost is typical for both psychiatric ward inpatient assignments or outpatient office visits. Continued daily evaluations of inpatients are reflected by inpatient follow-up psychiatrist fees. It is during these visits that patients' mood, affect and orientation are evaluated, as well as their response to any new medications added to their treatment regimen.

For outpatient visits, which take place in a psychiatrist's office, psychiatrist fees depend upon the focus of the practice. For psychotherapy, fees can be somewhat expensive, reflecting the usual 50-minute "hour" visit. Outpatient office visits termed as "medication management" are billed by practices focusing primarily on psychopharmacology. These latter visits are usually limited to approximately 15 minutes and charged accordingly. Longer visits reviewing significant changes in disease symptoms, poor patient compliance or serious drug side effects may be billed as "intermediate" care.

Some psychiatrist fees are only utilized by some practices. Telephone consultations with patients may be classified into three categories according to length, and charged as such. Other offices also offer marital or relationship counseling, somewhat along the lines of talk-based psychotherapy. Psychiatrist fees for sessions involving a couple are usually more expensive than those including one patient. As a natural extension of couples' therapy, other practices take on the challenge of psychotherapy for families.

Forensic psychiatrist fees are among the highest charged by this medical specialty. Not only are the initial evaluations longer, more detailed and more expensive, any required follow-up evaluations are also costly. Forensic psychiatrist billing also typically includes research time, travel costs and expenses incurred during the interviews. Trial preparation and trial testimony psychiatrist fees are very costly due to the expertise and experience required.

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