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Phone: 814-297-7079

Local Service Providers

Helpful Techniques
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Mental Health for
College Life
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Glossary of Terms

Contact Info

Practice Location:
498 Greenville Pike
(By Clarion Office Equipment)
Clarion, PA 16214

Mailing Address:
1213 Chestnut St;
Clarion, PA 16214

About Your Health Insurance

Provision of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

How can I get services?  Whom should I contact?

Call your insurance plan, or your company's benefits administrator, and ask for a verbal and written description of what coverage is provided for behavioral health treatments. Many insurers offer coverage for mental health (MH) services and/or substance abuse (SA) treatments; some only cover substance abuse if it co-occurs with mental illness. If you plan to use MH or SA benefits through your insurance plan, you may be required to get a referral from your regular doctor before you can receive services.

Additionally, your employer may offer an employee assistance program, or EAP. An EAP is a resource provided either as part of, or separate from, employer-sponsored health plans. Usually EAP visits are free, but the number of visits may be limited. Preventive care measures such as health screenings, mental health or substance abuse screening, and/or wellness activities will be provided. An EAP may not include all services and programs, but many provide aid to employees and their families for substance abuse, stress, depression, and other mental health issues. EAP visits are confidential; information discussed in these visits will not be shared with your employer.

If you do not have access to an EAP or employer-sponsored health insurance, you may qualify for Medicare or Medicaid services. To determine your eligibility for these and other government programs, and to determine what kinds of coverage are provided, contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS),, at 1-877-267-2323 (TDD: 1-866-226-1819) and your State's department of insurance. On the web, you can find contact information for your State's department of insurance on You can also find contact information for your state's mental health program from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors at

Your State mental health agency will be helpful in telling you how mental health services in your State are funded. In publicly funded mental health centers, such as those run by State, city or county governments, the cost of many services is calculated according to what you can afford to pay. So, if you have a lack of funds, services are still provided. This is called a sliding-scale, or sliding-fee, basis of payment. In addition, States, which often work with Federal programs, such as Medicaid, provide financial assistance to eligible individuals or families. Information about medical and health care assistance is available at your county/city social services departments, health and human services department, or Social Security office.

What can I expect from my insurance plan?

Insurance coverage for mental health (MH) and substance abuse (SA) benefits differs among plans, employers, and States. State laws may require insurers to provide a standard, minimal offering of MH and/or SA benefits although insurers are free to provide additional coverage. In general, mental health benefits are not as extensive as medical/surgical benefits and will require higher deductibles and co-payments in addition to any regular, fixed payments.

The following are common types of managed care health insurance plans:

  1. HMO, Health Maintenance Organization - A plan that provides a selected set of health care services from doctors or health care providers within its network. These plans highlight preventive services.
  2. FFS, Fee-for-Service - A health plan in which consumers may use any health care provider they choose. Providers are paid a fee for each health care service performed; the plan will either pay the doctors directly or will reimburse you for the cost of the service after you have filed an insurance claim. Fee-for-service plans are a type of indemnity insurance.

a. PPOs, Preferred Provider Organizations, are sometimes referred to as fee-for-service plans. PPOs differ from FFS plans in that they use a network of providers and usually charge lower fees.

  1. POS, Point-of-Service plan - A plan that operates under a FFS plan and/or a HMO.

a. Under a HMO, a POS allows consumers to visit health care providers outside the HMO's network as well as providers inside the network. Using a provider outside the network requires will result in higher copayments and deductibles, and you may have to file a claim for reimbursement.

b. Under a FFS plan, consumers can visit the provider of their choice. There may or may not be a network of providers - if there is a network, consumers are usually offered lower copayments and/or no deductible to see a provider within the network.

How can I enhance my insurance?

You are eligible for a Medical Savings Account, or MSA, if you work for a business with 50 or less employees and have high-deductible employer-sponsored health insurance. Self-employed individuals are also eligible for MSAs if they have a high-deductible insurance plan. MSAs are accounts that can be used along with your health insurance plan only if your plan has a high deductible and is your only health insurance plan. "High" is defined as a $1,600 deductible or more annually per individual, and $3,200 or more annually per family. Before reaching this deductible, all medical costs, except for insurance premiums, can be paid from the consumer's MSA (insurance premiums can be paid by the MSA if the consumer is between jobs and not collecting state or federal unemployment benefits). Contributions to the MSA are tax-exempt and the consumer gets to keep any account money that is not spent. Money in the MSA can be withdrawn for non-medical expenses, but those withdrawals are subject to a 15 percent tax.

A FSA, or Flexible Spending Account, is similar to an MSA, but FSAs do not have to be used with high-deductible insurance plans. These accounts are also open to anyone whose employer offers them. However, with a FSA, consumers do not get to keep their unspent account money and money can not be withdrawn for non-medical expenditures.

What about parity?

The Mental Health Parity Act, MHPA, of 1996 requires plans that offer mental health benefits to set lifetime dollar limits equivalent to limits for medical/surgical benefits; however, it does not require all plans to offer mental health benefits. Limits for substance abuse or chemical dependency benefits are not included in the determination of parity.

To learn more about the Mental Health Parity Act, access the CMS on the Internet at, If you are leaving a job for any reason and would like to learn more about continuing your current health insurance you can refer to and the U.S. Department of Labor at

Many States have their own mental health parity laws. Some State parity laws deal with substance abuse benefits as well as treatments for mental illness. To learn more about parity and mental health coverage in your own State, contact your State department of insurance.

When should I use mental health or substance abuse services?

If stress, or interpersonal or job-related tension, is interfering with your daily life or if a medical condition is causing you mental anguish, you may want to seek mental health care. If habitual use of legal or illegal substances is negatively affecting your health and/or your daily life, you should seek treatment for substance abuse. In either circumstance, you should seek care as soon as possible, before you feel that you can no longer cope with the situation. These problems are just as important, and treatable, as medical problems.

Whom will I see?

When you seek MH and or SA treatment, you will see a variety of health care professionals. You may also deal with a case manager from the insurance company or treatment facility. Depending on the type of your insurance, a case manager (CM) may, in conjunction with your health care provider, assess your health needs, refer you to a specialist, coordinate the services that you will receive, and/or follow up on your treatment. In some cases, you may only speak with the CM over the phone; in others, the CM may be a qualified practitioner that you will actually visit. A qualified practitioner is any practicing health care professional licensed by the State to treat patients and provide health services.

The qualified practitioners that you may see during the course of your treatment include the following:

  • Primary care provider (PCP), the physician who provides you with basic health care services;
  • Physician assistant, a trained professional who provides health care services under the supervision of a licensed physician;
  • Clinical psychologist, a professional with a doctoral degree in psychology who specializes in therapy;
  • Psychiatrist, a professional who completed both medical school and training in psychiatry and is a specialist in diagnosing and treating mental illness;
  • Clinical social worker, a professional with an advanced degree in social work who provides services for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and behavioral disorders;
  • Registered nurse, a trained professional with a nursing degree who provides patient care and administers medicine;
  • Nurse practitioner, a registered nurse who works in an expanded role and manages patients' medical conditions.

Anyone of these qualified practitioners is referred to as a specialist if he or she has received advanced education in a particular area of health care such as mental illness or substance abuse. Your PCP should communicate with your specialist(s) to monitor your progress and to make sure that you are not receiving any treatments that may react with other medicines or disrupt any other health conditions.

For more information:

SAMHSA's National Mental Health Information Center
P.O. Box 42557
Washington, D.C. 20015
800-789-2647 voice
866-889-2647 TDD

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850
1-877-267-2323 voice
1-866-226-1819 TDD

National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse
1211 Chestnut Street - Ste. 1207
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107
800-553-4539 voice
Rev. 01/2003