Alberta College of Social Workers

Third Party Billing

The Inclusion Of Registered Social Workers* In Extended Health Benefits

* Please note that registered status reflects a wide range of qualifications, and for the purposes of this document, M.S.W. is a minimum requirement.

Employees’ Health Benefits Package: Important Considerations

FACT - The inclusion of Registered Social Workers* on your list of mental health providers is simple and straightforward with no additional cost to your company.

FACT - Employees would then have the freedom to choose from the full range of competent and professional counselling and mental health services.

FACT - Registered Social Workers* are the largest group of practicing counsellors and psychotherapists in North America.

FACT - Increasingly, in response to employers’ requests, insurance companies are covering payment for services provided by Registered Social Workers*.

FACT - Health Benefit Package policies are renewed annually. However the client organization can request changes at any time.

Social Workers And Research Findings

"Budget-Minded Insurers Favour Social Workers Because They Offer Relatively Low-Cost Services". (i)

An in-depth candid survey of 4,000 subscribers of Consumer Reports (1995)* was the largest survey ever to query mental health care. Whereas most studies focus on specific, well-defined client problems, this survey viewed client problems as more diverse and less well-defined. Consumer Reports identified a more realistic reflection of most clients’ experience. Thus study data was derived from the participants’ own perceptions.

Some Interesting Findings

  • Clients were just as satisfied and reported similar progress whether they saw a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. All three professional groups "received equally high marks... and were praised for being supportive, insightful, and easy to confide in". This remained true even when the seriousness and type of problem and length of treatment were statistically controlled.
  • There was convincing evidence that therapy can make an important difference in easing the problems for clients using mental health services. Therapy helped them function better, and improved their ability to relate well to others, to be more productive at work, and to cope with everyday stress.
  • Clients reported that therapy resulted in more confidence, better self-esteem, self-understanding, and more enjoyment of life.
  • Psychotherapy alone worked as well as psychotherapy combined with medication.

Consumer Reports suggested that when a client is seeking mental health therapy, it is important to look for competence in the service provider and personal chemistry (i.e. client-therapist fit). To this we would add ensuring that the service provider has appropriate academic credentials and post-graduate clinical training.

(i) Information is from a study done for Consumer Reports (November 1995) by Martin Seligman, former Director of Clinical Training in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and past president of the American Psychological Association’s division of clinical psychology.

A Survey of Insurance Carriers for Coverage of Social Workers under the Paramedical Benefits of Health Plans

Great West Life
Covered in all Provinces
Liberty Life
Owned by Manulife and covered in all Provinces
Not in standard contract. Will add if requested.
National Life
Covered under plans for 100+ employees if requested.
Standard Life
Not covered in standard contract but can be added.
Sun Life
Not covered in standard contract. If plan is large enough coverage can be added.

Survey completed by AON Consulting for the National Initiative Committee for Insurance Coverage of Social Workers under Health Plans Fall/Winter 2003