Finding an in-network therapist has long been a challenge, and with more people experiencing anxiety and depression during the Covid-19 pandemic, it hasn’t gotten any easier. A number of startups are tackling the problem — either by offering teletherapy or self-guided exercises.
One company, Alma, is taking a different approach by making easier for therapists to grow their businesses, and take insurance if they choose to. The New York-based startup recently raised $50 million in a series C round led by Insight Partners, as it adds more therapists to its membership-based service.
So far, the company has won over more than 2,000 therapists with this approach, the vast majority of which are enrolled in its insurance program.
“At Alma, we’re building a new model for mental health care that puts therapists at the forefront of everything we do,” CEO Dr. Harry Ritter said in a news release. “We can’t talk about the $221 billion yearly mental health crisis without acknowledging the providers at the frontlines of this crisis. This past year we doubled down on tools and services to support our providers and scaled our insurance offering to make it easy and financially rewarding for providers to accept insurance.”
Ritter started the company in 2017, after working at insurance company Oscar, which went public earlier this year. The initial goal was to help therapists provide in-person care, but since the start of the pandemic, many of them have begun offering virtual visits. According to an internal survey, 95% of Alma’s providers plan to keep offering teletherapy, and it will keep paying the same amount for these visits as in-person therapy.
Alma charges $125 per month for its membership, which gives clinicians access to its software, billing and scheduling tools, along with insurance support. It takes some of the big insurers, including Ritter’s former employer, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare.
It also has a service to help patients find a therapist that would be a good match based on their needs, schedule, and budget. Otherwise, therapists are still able to run their own practices, including deciding on their schedule and how many patients they see each week.
The startup plans to use the funds to bring in more therapists and expand its footprint across the U.S. Another startup, Headway, is taking a similar approach, by building its own network of therapists as independent contractors.
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