Victims′ rights group urges German health insurers to cover online therapy | News | DW | 03.08.2018
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Victims' rights group urges German health insurers to cover online therapy

For those seeking psychological help in Germany, it can take months before a spot in therapy opens up. Online therapy can reduce waiting time, but only a handful of health insurance companies currently cover the costs.

German health insurance companies should start completely covering online therapy across the board, not just in particular circumstances, the German victims' aid organization Weisser Ring [White Ring] said on Friday.

"Many areas in Germany are underserved when it comes to psychological therapy," Weisser Ring chairwoman Roswitha Müller-Piepenkötter told German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

"Online therapy could change that and take care of more victims of crime who have post-traumatic stress disorder," she added.

A person seeking psychological help in Germany has to wait an average of three months to get a spot in therapy, Müller-Piepenkötter noted. The process can sometimes be slightly accelerated, but that usually requires people to pay out of pocket for the sessions.

Especially for victims of crimes, the longer they have to wait for therapy, the stronger the negative effects on their psychological health.

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Benefits of online therapy

Online therapy is not currently considered a standard benefit and is covered by only a few health insurers in limited cases.

When insurers do pay for online therapy, it's restricted to certain programs such as therapy for depression or burnout.

Online therapy typically consists of video chat sessions between therapists and patients. Certain platforms also offer encrypted communication using email and messages sent through the therapy website or using an app.

Müller-Piepenkötter noted that online therapy also enables people who live in rural areas as well as those who are prevented from attending in-person therapy to still get help.

"People who can't leave their homes due to anxiety, sickness or due to their age can also receive treatment," she told the paper.

The costs for online therapy are also lower than the usual €80 ($93) per session that patients pay for in-person therapy.

rs/rt (dpa, KNA)

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