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LiveHealth Online offers single-session therapy with licensed therapists or psychologists for a lower-than-average cost. However, those seeking a long-term therapist may be better served by other online therapy companies because of the way the platform is designed. It also offers very few therapists who assert they are LGBTQIA+ affirming, which may not make it a safe choice for everyone.
- Price: $80 or $95 for 45-minute therapy sessions
- Is Insurance Accepted? Yes, Anthem brands only
- Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, child, teen, medication management, psychiatry
- Communication Options: Live video
- HIPAA Compliant? Yes
- Is There an App? Yes
- Accepts HSA or FSA? No
- Prescriptions Available? Yes
- Billing Cadence: Pay-per-session
Pros & Cons
- Affordable therapy and psychiatry rates
- Easy-to-navigate website
- Insurance coverage offered
- Free app available
- 24/7 phone customer service support
- Also offers physician services online
- Very few LGBTQIA+ affirming therapists
- Appointment availability may be several weeks out
- Designed only for single therapy sessions
- No way to contact therapists
- App is glitchy
- Therapist expressed transphobic sentiments
- Numerous issues with appointment start times
Remote mental health services grew in popularity during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020-2021 when therapists and patients were unable to meet in person. Many quickly realized that the ability to conduct therapy from home saved them time and gave them access to a larger number of available therapists. Telehealth remains popular, and LiveHealth Online works specifically to connect patients with therapists, psychiatrists, and medical doctors for appointments that are always conducted remotely.
By offering providers with online availability, LiveHealth allows patients to see a professional from the comfort of their own home, and possibly obtain treatment more quickly than they could in person. To see if LiveHealth Online really does make accessing healthcare easier, I scheduled a session with one of their therapists. In addition, we surveyed 105 users about their experiences with the company and compared the company to 54 others we’re evaluating.
What Is LiveHealth Online?
LiveHealth Online is the trade name for a company called Health Management Corporation. It’s a subsidiary of Anthem, Inc., the insurance provider, and it facilitates in-network coverage for all Anthem patients. LiveHealth Online itself was founded in 2013, with an app released in 2014, offering patients the ability to see providers from home via mobile devices, phone, and computer.
Psychiatrists for LiveHealth Online are board-certified doctors, and the urgent care medical element of the site is able to provide services 24/7, similar to an in-person clinic. LiveHealth doesn’t appear to have experienced any scandals.
What Services Does LiveHealth Online Offer?
LiveHealth Online offers 45-minute therapy sessions with both therapists and psychologists. This is individual therapy, and no information is offered about therapist modalities or specialties. It is designed to be a one-off single session, with the website noting that after your session you can “set up a return visit with the same provider, if needed.” Its therapists can provide assistance with issues such as stress, anxiety, panic attacks, coping with illness, grief, and relationship problems.
To see a therapist, you schedule through the online portal. Therapists are available during normal business hours, and while the site notes you can see a therapist “in a few days or less,” I did not find that to be the case: The only LGBTQIA+ ally therapist who had availability, of the three total listed on the site, was scheduled nearly a month out in advance. The other two didn’t have any availability at all.
Psychiatrist appointments are also available via telehealth at LiveHealth, and it offers medication management services. Unlike therapists, they are available days, nights, and weekends. LiveHealth Online says that you can see one within 14 days; however, we did not test this service to confirm that. Psychiatrists can help with problems such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, depression, stress, and panic attacks.
Who Is LiveHealth Online For?
LiveHealth Online is available for adults and children (though its mental health services are for ages 10 and up), and is ideal for people who carry Anthem insurance because you’ll be able to see providers for only the cost of an in-network co-pay. However, because the self-pay cost is so reasonable, using the service without insurance is also relatively affordable. It’s a convenient format that can accommodate busy schedules by being accessible on a mobile app, so you don’t have to be at home to use it.
Additionally, because there are no monthly fees and therapy is conducted as a one-off appointment, this is ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to commit to a new therapist or to ongoing therapy. Many people simply want to work through a single issue, and LiveHealth Online therapy offers the opportunity to do that without commitment.
It’s worth noting that prior to your appointment, the company doesn’t request any information about your medical or mental health history. For someone seeking in-depth counseling, the company wouldn’t be a good choice, but for someone just looking for a single chat, it’s a convenient way to do that.
How Much Does LiveHealth Online Cost?
At LiveHealth Online, 45-minute therapy visits cost $80 for a licensed therapist or $95 for a psychologist. That is the self-pay price. The self-pay cost can be considered affordable in comparison to many other providers we reviewed may run upwards of $160 per session, or the national average of $60 to $200.
For psychiatry services, the cost is $175 for an initial visit and $75 per follow-up appointment. These appointments are generally ongoing if medication management is involved. According to Amy Marschall, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and one of the subject matter experts we worked with on this project, psychiatrists can sometimes charge up to $500 per visit, which makes the $175 rate at LiveHealth Online relatively affordable.
Does LiveHealth Online Take Insurance?
Yes. Because LiveHealth Online is owned by Anthem, any Anthem patient can use its services for only a co-pay.
Anthem operates as the insurance businesses of Anthem HealthKeepers Plus, Amerigroup, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Empire Health Choice. This is not the same as having Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield insurance that doesn’t have the word Anthem in front of it.
I thought my appointment would be in-network because I have Blue Shield of CA insurance, but in actuality the two are competitors. In order for your visit to be covered, you must be under a subsidiary of Anthem.
Of those we surveyed, 69% used their insurance to pay for LiveHealth Online’s services.
“Being able to take insurance makes therapy affordable to many,” explains Marschall, “as they are able to have sessions for the cost of their co-pay, or even at no cost once they reach their deductible.” This means more people can afford therapy who otherwise couldn’t.
Navigating the LiveHealth Online Website and App
The website for LiveHealth Online looks like a general telehealth site, filled with imagery and info that tells you about how easy it is to see a doctor.
The grey and blue color scheme appears business-like, and the fonts and graphics are all simple enough to not be distracting. Even though LiveHealth Online offers many types of medical appointments, it isn’t hard to find its mental health services on the website.
There are four main appointment types you can choose from on the site, and they all have clear and easily readable icons: Medical, Allergy, Psychology, and Psychiatry. They are displayed clearly across the front of the homepage, right on top.
If you scroll down, there is information about each of the services that you can click on to read more. 74% of users we surveyed found the website easy or very easy to navigate, and only 5% found it difficult or very difficult. I thought the website looked trustworthy and user-friendly.
It’s very easy to click on an appointment type, be it allergy, medical, therapy, or psychiatry, and get started booking an appointment. If you scroll down to the bottom of the homepage, you’ll find phone numbers for 24/7 customer service assistance, which I found reassuring.
There is a link to a FAQ section that answers assorted basic questions, such as how to conduct a medical session with your child, as well as a blog with 15 pages' worth of articles. For therapy, you must first sign up before you can view therapist bios.
Does LiveHealth Online Have An App?
Yes, it does.
The app for LiveHeath Online can be accessed through the Apple App Store or Google Play. When you book an appointment with the service, it will send you a link to download the app onto your mobile device. I did this and logged in from my phone, where a home screen has icons for each of the four service categories.
On the bottom is a “calendar” icon, and if you click on that, your upcoming appointment (if you have one) shows up. When you click on that, it takes you into your appointment. If you click on it before your appointment time, it tells you that you have entered the appointment early.
How Do You Sign Up for Therapy at LiveHealth Online?
I found the sign-up process incredibly easy. All you have to do to create an account is enter your name, email, and password.
Then you click on which type of service you want. No intake questions are asked. Next, you can choose to make an appointment either by selecting a therapist by clicking on their photo icon, or by choosing a date (Note: therapist pictured below was not my therapist, just an example of what a therapist bio looks like).
The schedule-by-date option is how the company is able to say you can see a provider in just a few days or less, because you don’t get to choose your provider. An available one will be chosen for you based on the time and date you select.
While that may work for some, I wanted a provider who was an LGBTQIA+ ally, so I had a long wait because they have so few. Allyship is denoted by a small flag with the word “ally” on it on the top corner of a therapist’s photo icon. If you’re someone who wants your therapist to know anything about you before your session, this would not be a fit—there is no info requested about your history or your preferences. I wasn’t asked about anything personal except my credit card information.
Choosing a Therapist at LiveHealth Online
To choose a therapist at LiveHealth Online, you click on the option to schedule your appointment based on the therapist instead of based on who can see you first. An initial list of eight icons with names and photos pops up. You can then click below to see additional providers. A total ranging of 15 to 25 providers will be available to peruse. I assume this number was based on the quantity of therapists licensed to perform therapy in my location.
Because I wanted an LGBTQIA+ ally therapist, I had only three out of the entire selection to choose from. Two of the three had no availability at all this year. In fact, their soonest appointments were seven to eight months away. So I only had one therapist to pick from. This surprised me, given that over two-thirds of our country supports gay marriage. The idea that only 10% of therapists would be accepting of someone with an LGBTQIA+ identity is out of sync with our population at large. Because LGBTQIA+ allyship is the only type of addition to a therapist’s photo, it felt like those who opted not to place it on theirs were specifically choosing to present themselves as not supportive of LGBTQIA+ people.
Marschall found this small proportion of allies concerning as well, telling us that “most ethical codes and best practices for mental health state that we have an obligation to be affirming with LGBTQIA+ clients.” This means that allyship is somewhat required for therapists, yet most of LiveHealth Online’s providers do not comply with that.
She added that “it is possible that a therapist who is affirming might not list it on their profile (like a therapist practicing in a state where it might not be safe to be open about allyship or membership in this community). But I would see that as a sign to look into the matter further.”
How Do Therapy Sessions Work at LiveHealth Online?
Individual online therapy sessions are about 45 minutes long. Shortly before your appointment, you can enter a virtual “waiting room” through the patient portal via the website or app.
Before the session, you’ll be asked to enter a brief reason for today’s visit. You can choose from a dropdown menu of common reasons, such as stress. You can then have the video session on your desktop computer or mobile device.
Therapy is conducted via video, either through the website or app. If using the website, you’ll need to log in to your account. This actually is two steps instead of one, because from the homepage when you click on “login,” you get prompted to create an account. You have to click “login” a second time, from the account creation page, to log in to your account.
When you schedule an appointment for therapy, you’ll receive a confirmation email. You will also be able to see the upcoming appointment when you are logged into the site or the app, via the calendar icon. Clicking on it will give you the full details of your appointment.
When it’s time for your therapy session, you’ll click the link to enter the video room. I did this a few minutes ahead of schedule after receiving a push notification. However, in the app it said I was early even after the appointment started. I called customer service twice, and both times I was disconnected while on hold. Finally, at a quarter past the hour, the app moved to a new screen for intake. While I made it to the final page, at 20 past the hour, it closed on me without saving all the info I’d inputted. I gave up and, though I did reschedule within 24 hours, was charged a $40 no-show fee. Just like when I called customer support during my session, I was hung up on when I called to dispute the $40 fee. I did not call back, as three attempts through a telephone tree with a disconnect every time was frustrating enough for me to give up.
For my rescheduled appointment, the app kept me in the waiting room until eight past the hour. Then it moved to intake questions and I entered the therapy session at about 12 minutes past. The psychologist asked me general intake questions about my family history and therapy history, as well as my mental health background.
When we moved into why I was seeking therapy, things took a turn for the worse.
I’d been experiencing some stressors regarding my partner’s healthcare, and was looking for advice on dealing with them. Though I explained that my partner is a trans man, the therapist repeatedly referred to him as either a woman or a woman who “had a sex change.” In his follow-up notes, the therapist recorded this as “She said she is involved with a woman having a sex change.” During our appointment, when I expressed concern at the therapist’s language, he responded by saying, “I’m an expert at all this, an expert at transgenders.”
I was horrified by the antiquated and transphobic language the therapist used, despite my repeatedly pointing out that he was misgendering my partner.
He referred to my sexuality as my “style,” as in, “you don’t like her changes because that’s not your style.” For someone who claims to be an ally, degrading a person’s sexuality to “style” was shocking to me as a queer person. Because of this, I found the session to be upsetting rather than helpful.
After the session, I received a report with session notes that I could view and download as a PDF. My therapist recorded my affect as “guarded,” and my thought process as “worrisome,” which felt unfair considering I was responding to his offensive statements.
While I didn’t test out LiveHealth Online’s psychiatry services myself, our survey found that 87% of users rated LiveHealth Online’s psychiatry and medication management services as good, very good, or excellent, much higher than the average of all online therapy services which was 77%. And 83% rated their prescriber’s bedside manner positively.
Psychiatry services are accessed the same way as therapy: you create an account, then click on psychiatry services. You can then peruse doctors or choose based on a selected appointment time. Same as with therapists, if you schedule based on date and time, you will not get to choose your therapist.
Kid/Teen Therapy Sessions
Therapy is available for children aged 10 and older. Additionally, the company offers urgent care telehealth medical services for children of all ages.
In order to use the service for therapy for your child, you’ll want to specifically select a provider whose profile notes that they treat children. This isn’t something you can search for broadly, so you’ll need to look at each therapist individually to see if their profile says that they offer that service. Instructions are provided online for how to set up a session with your child, but I couldn’t find any info about whether or not a parent is expected to sit in on a session with their child.
What Happens If I Miss a Session at LiveHealth Online?
Canceling a session is an option from either the website or the app, accessible via a large button on the app underneath your appointment information. It is also an option in your confirmation email.
Once you press it, you are asked if you’re sure you want to cancel, and you have to confirm. You are free to cancel a session at any time. Once you cancel it, you’ll receive an email confirmation that the appointment has been canceled.
Switching Therapists at LiveHealth Online
Because therapy sessions are all one-offs, you can just as easily continue with the same therapist as you can a different one. This is a single appointment scheduling system, and based on the “if needed” wording on the site, there is no expectation that therapy will be ongoing with one provider or different ones.
Rather, this seems meant for people who just want to hash out a single problem quickly, versus people who want to enter regular therapy.
Pausing or Canceling Therapy at LiveHealth Online
Because this is made to be a single session of therapy at a time, not a continued experience, there is no need to pause or cancel ongoing therapy. You just would opt to not schedule another appointment, and your therapy would automatically be stopped. The burden of scheduling is on the patient each time, because unlike with regular long-term therapy, you won’t ever receive a specific session time and day that continues on a weekly or biweekly basis.
If you’re someone who wants the stability of always knowing that you will have therapy at the same time each week, this service wouldn’t be a fit for you.
Quality of Care and User Satisfaction
It’s difficult to say how well LiveHealth Online could treat any conditions because it doesn’t offer ongoing therapy, and there are very few situations in life that can be completely remedied or settled with a single 45-minute discussion with a professional. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, grief, chronic illness, or most of the other problems it says it treats, you’d be hard pressed to resolve those issues with a single conversation.
Despite the focus on single sessions, users of LiveHealth Online had mostly positive experiences with their providers. Overall, 90% rated the company positively overall, 87% were happy with the diversity of therapists, and 91% considered therapists to be well-qualified. No one at all rated provider bedside manner as terrible, and 83% considered it good to excellent.
Personally, I found it off-putting to encounter such a small percent of providers who identified as allies to my identity. I would normally never choose an older cis man as a therapist, but he was the only option I had. That meant, when entering my session, I was far less comfortable than I’d normally be. It’s important to realize that “ally” doesn’t mean the person identifies as something themselves: It just means they are openly not prejudiced against you.
Looking for a therapist on a website full of people who couldn’t say publicly that they don't hate my identity as a human was a highly negative experience. Of nearly two dozen therapists, only three purported to be allies, and the “ally” therapist I worked with was anything but educated about LGBTQIA+ issues, despite his claim of being “an expert at transgenders.”
If I were selecting a therapist outside of this review, I wouldn’t necessarily gravitate to an LGBTQIA+ focused site, but I would definitely only go to one where the majority of therapists expressed support for my existence and that of my partner(s). That doesn’t feel like too much to ask, and in fact, seems pretty baseline in this day and age. If a therapist isn’t an ally to that identity, how would they feel about my being mixed race, or being Jewish? It’s a slippery slope where a therapy seeker is left wondering if the therapists feel they have the right to not comply with ethical standards of the industry on any fronts.
Privacy Policies at LiveHealth Online
LiveHealth Online vs. Its Competitors
LiveHealth Online could be considered most similar to Teladoc, MDLIVE, and Amwell in terms of the services it provides and its delivery methods, as each of these companies offers general telehealth services as well as mental health services. In our survey results, these companies had similar ratings across multiple categories.
For example, 90% of LiveHealth Online users felt the quality of providers was between good and excellent, compared to 84% of Teladoc users, 82% of MDLIVE users, and 80% of Amwell users. Additionally, 89% of LiveHealth Online users said it was better than services they had used in the past, compared to 75% of Teladoc users, 73% of MDLIVE users, and 88% of Amwell users.
When it came to whether users would recommend the company to others, LiveHealth Online fared less well: 76% of users said they’d recommend it to a friend or someone like them, while 78% of Amwell users would, 84% of MDLIVE users would, and 86% of Teladoc users would.
LiveHealth Online is an accessibly priced and easy-to-use website and app for mental healthcare. Because it only schedules therapy as single appointments, it’s ideal for those who wish to talk through a simple issue just one time, versus those who are looking for a long-term therapy option. You have the choice between therapists and psychologists, and can also access medication services through psychiatrists. LiveHealth fared well with users surveyed, and there were no visible red flags based on our data.
Due to my experience with a transphobic, rude, and dismissive psychologist who was the only LGBTQIA+ ally available out of dozens of therapists, I strongly feel that LGBTQIA+ identified people should be wary of this service. As a potential user of it, I’d encourage people to seek nearly any other service, as I have received far more affirming care from cis-het therapists who did not even place an ally flag on their online profile. Alternatively, there are many LGBTQIA+ therapy websites that would also be a better bet. My therapy session with LiveHealth served only to create more problems for me than it resolved, as it left me angry and hurt to be treated in a reductive manner by a mental health professional.
To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 55 companies and surveyed 105 current users of each. This allowed us to directly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and its users’ experiences.
Specifically, we evaluated each company on the following factors: website usability, the sign-up and therapist matching processes, therapist qualifications, types of therapy offered, the service's quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, average cost and value for money, whether it accepts insurance, how easy it is to change therapists, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood that clients would recommend them.
We also signed up for the company in order to get a sense of how this process worked, how easy to use the platform is, and how therapy takes place at the company. Then, we attended a session of therapy with one of their therapists.