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Does Insurance Cover Ketamine Infusions

November 21, 2023

In recent years, ketamine infusions have emerged as a promising treatment for a range of mental health conditions, offering a glimmer of hope to those who have struggled with treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. 

The powerful effects of ketamine on the brain have made it a groundbreaking therapy, but with it comes a question that lingers in the minds of many seeking relief: does insurance cover ketamine infusions? 

As we delve into the fascinating world of ketamine therapy, this blog aims to shed light on insurance coverage, potential hurdles, and the paths you can explore to access this transformative treatment.

What are ketamine infusions?

Ketamine infusions have been making waves in the field of mental health treatment. But what exactly are they, and how do they work?

Ketamine infusions involve the intravenous administration of ketamine, a powerful anesthetic, at controlled doses in a clinical setting. Initially developed for surgical and anesthetic purposes, ketamine's ability to rapidly alleviate symptoms of depression and other mood disorders has gained attention. 

Patients typically receive the infusions in a series of sessions over several weeks, each lasting around 40 minutes.Below are some of the challenge of navigating insurance policies:

  • Complex task: Understanding and navigating insurance policies for mental health treatments can be intricate and daunting.
  • Specific documentation: Insurance policies often demand particular documentation to approve coverage for ketamine infusions.
  • Pre-authorization requirement: Before commencing ketamine treatment, pre-authorization is often necessary.
  • Medical necessity proof: Healthcare providers must submit evidence of medical necessity, such as treatment-resistant depression or qualifying conditions.
  • Potential complexities: The process of obtaining pre-authorization can involve substantial paperwork, documentation, and clinical evaluations.
  • Importance of understanding: To ensure a smooth and successful experience, a thorough understanding of your insurance policy and its requirements is vital.

Variability in coverage across different insurance providers

  • Not all insurers are the same: Different insurance providers offer varying levels of coverage for ketamine infusions.
  • Recognition of treatment value: Some insurers acknowledge the effectiveness of ketamine therapy and provide comprehensive coverage.
  • Limited or no coverage: In contrast, certain insurance providers may offer limited or none for ketamine treatments.
  • Contacting your insurer: It's essential to contact your insurance provider directly to determine the extent of your coverage for ketamine infusions.
  • Understanding associated costs: By contacting your insurer, you can also gain insights into the costs you may be responsible for, even with coverage limitations.

Pre-authorization and medical necessity requirements

  • Pre-authorization necessity: Many insurance providers mandate pre-authorization before starting ketamine infusion treatment.
  • Medical necessity documentation: The pre-authorization process entails healthcare providers submitting documentation that proves the medical necessity of ketamine therapy.
  • Evidence of treatment-resistant conditions: This may include documenting the presence of treatment-resistant depression or other qualifying conditions.
  • Unique requirements: The pre-authorization requirements and processes can vary among insurance providers.
  • Key to a smooth experience: Understanding and complying with these pre-authorization procedures is crucial for a streamlined experience when seeking ketamine infusions.

Potential Hurdles and Barriers

As with any medical treatment, some potential hurdles and barriers may affect access to ketamine infusions.

Cost Concerns

  • Primary Concern: The cost of ketamine infusions is a significant worry for individuals.
  • Insurance Coverage: While insurance can help, it might only cover some expenses.
  • Out-of-pocket Costs: Patients may still face substantial out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Variability: Costs vary based on the insurance plan and the chosen provider.

Session Limitations

  • Insurance Restrictions: Some providers limit the number of covered ketamine infusion sessions.
  • Challenge for Extended Treatment: This poses a challenge for those needing a more extended treatment plan for sustained mental health improvements.

Prior Authorization and Documentation Challenges

  • Barrier to Access: Obtaining prior authorization and submitting required medical documentation can be a significant barrier.
  • Time-Consuming Process: The process involves comprehensive records, clinical evaluations, and detailed paperwork, making it time-consuming.
  • Preparation Required: Patients and healthcare providers must be well-prepared to navigate these requirements.

Strategies to Secure Insurance Coverage

Despite the challenges, there are strategies that individuals can employ to increase their chances of securing insurance coverage for ketamine infusions.

Reviewing Insurance Policy

  • Thorough Examination: Take time to thoroughly review your insurance policy before starting ketamine infusions.
  • Terms and Conditions: Familiarize yourself with terms, conditions, and clauses related to mental health treatments and infusion therapies.
  • Specific Mentions: Look for specific mentions of ketamine, as some policies may explicitly cover it.
  • Understanding Coverage: Understanding your policy is crucial to knowing potential coverage or limitations.

Advocating for Coverage

  • Stay Persistent: If the initial review is favorable, keep hope.
  • Gather Evidence: Collect compelling evidence supporting the medical necessity and effectiveness of ketamine infusions for your case.
  • Open Dialogue: Engage in open and respectful dialogue with your insurer.
  • Professional Presentation: Present your case confidently and professionally, providing documentation from your healthcare provider.

Utilizing FSAs or HSAs

  • Financial Tools: Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) are valuable tools.
  • Pre-tax Dollars: These accounts allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars for qualified medical expenses.
  • Cost Management: Allocate funds to an FSA or HSA to manage the costs associated with ketamine infusions.
  • Readily Available Resources: Ensure you have resources readily available to cover expenses.

Alternative Financing Options

If insurance coverage remains challenging, it's essential to explore alternative financing avenues to make ketamine infusions accessible.

Self-Pay Options

  • Feasibility: For some individuals, self-pay may be the most feasible option.
  • Flexibility: It provides flexibility without the constraints of insurance policies.
  • Clinic Offerings: Many ketamine clinics offer self-pay options.
  • Discounted Rates: Some clinics may provide discounted rates for individuals choosing self-pay.
  • Budgeting: It's crucial to budget and plan for the overall cost of the recommended treatment plan.

Non-Profit Organizations and Financial Assistance Programs

  • Financial Assistance: Explore non-profit organizations and financial assistance programs.
  • Support for Mental Health: Some organizations specifically support individuals seeking ketamine infusions for mental health conditions.
  • Grants and Aid: These programs may offer grants, subsidies, or financial aid to ease the financial burden.

Clinical Trials or Research Studies

  • Opportunity for Reduced Cost: Participating in clinical trials or research studies can provide access to ketamine infusions at reduced or no cost.
  • Safety and Effectiveness Evaluation: Clinical trials evaluate the safety and effectiveness of treatments.
  • Free or Subsidized Treatment: Participation often includes free or subsidized treatment.
  • Contribution to Knowledge: While involving additional assessments and data collection, it offers a chance to receive care and contribute to the advancement of knowledge about ketamine therapy.

Though our experience, insurance generally does not cover ketamine therapy (yet). However, we asked another ketamine provider in Charlotte, North Carolina, what his experience has been with insurance coverage. A little hint: cash pay is usually cheaper than using insurance. Here Dr Jonathan's response:

We have been providing Ketamine infusions for the last 6 years now. Since IV ketamine is considered off label use by the FDA it is not covered by most insurance providers. In general we have not seen Ketamine therapy covered by insurance providers. Nearly all of our clients are cash pay due to these facts. We have been able to help a few of our patients with filing insurance and have seen reimbursement range from $100-200 (less than half the costs of the infusion). 

Some clients do have coverage for es-ketamine nasal spray. While we do not offer this in our office we have seen it covered at other offices. However, the copay can be substantial and sometimes greater than paying for an infusion directly.

When looking at ketamine therapy from a cost benefit standpoint it is clear that is is well worth the costs. We are starting to see more employers willing to directly cover the costs given the benefits. We hope that in time insurance will come around and see the benefits as well.

Dr. Jonathan Leake is a Board Certified Emergency Department Physician | Derive Heath

Seeking Guidance from Healthcare Professionals

Your healthcare providers and mental health specialists play a pivotal role in your journey to access ketamine infusions.

Consulting with Healthcare Provider

  • Valuable Resource: Primary healthcare providers, psychiatrists, or therapists are valuable resources for ketamine therapy.
  • Treatment Options: Consult with them to discuss treatment options and obtain a professional evaluation of your condition.
  • Guidance on Documentation: They can guide documenting and communicating the medical necessity of ketamine infusions to your insurance provider.
  • Increased Coverage Chances: Collaborating with a trusted healthcare professional increases the chances of securing coverage.

Engaging with Mental Health Specialists and Ketamine Clinics

  • Expert Guidance: Mental health specialists and ketamine clinics specializing in this treatment provide expert guidance and support.
  • Nuances of Ketamine Therapy: They are well-versed in the nuances of ketamine therapy and insurance coverage.
  • Best Practices: Offer insights into best practices, assist in navigating pre-authorization processes, and provide supporting documentation.
  • Invaluable Experience: Their experience is invaluable in the journey to access ketamine infusions.

Leveraging Resources from Support Groups and Online Communities

  • Information and Support: Support groups and online communities offer a wealth of information and emotional support.
  • Shared Experiences: Engage with individuals who have gone through the process of seeking ketamine infusions.
  • Advice and Recommendations: They can share experiences, offer advice, and provide recommendations for healthcare providers and clinics.
  • Empowerment: The shared knowledge and sense of community can be empowering as you work towards accessing the treatment you need.


Securing insurance coverage for ketamine infusions is undoubtedly a journey with its share of challenges and considerations. However, with the right strategies, determination, and support from healthcare professionals, you can navigate this complex landscape successfully. 

Whether you find a path through insurance, explore alternative financing options, or seek guidance from mental health experts, the potential benefits of ketamine therapy make it a worthwhile endeavor. 

Remember that you're not alone in this journey, and the resources available to you can help you access this transformative treatment for your mental health.

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