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Why music therapy should be covered by health insurance

The artistic compositions can influence more than we can imagine. The individuals subject to art therapies indicate their arousal in both physical and mental levels. Considering the mentioned, music and art therapy are not simply for pleasure, but they can also bring a remedy for patients who went through trauma or distress (Gilroy & Lee, 2019). Hence, the cost of art and music therapy should be covered by health insurance.

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The named treatment is the technique that is implemented by doctors who pursue evidence-based medicine. The patients at schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and some private practices are prescribed to experience art and music therapy (Khan & Moss, 2017). Despite these facts, health insurance companies do not include this type of remedy in medical coverage. It is disappointing to realize that some patients might restrain from using the services because of their cost.

There are different types of therapies for distinctive disorders and patient preferences. Dance therapy, visual art therapy, drama therapy are some individual examples of the variety of options for people to consider (Khan & Moss, 2017). Given the freedom of choice, each person can find the treatment applicable and beneficial for them. Consequently, the necessity of other treatment options would be minimal. This factor is why insurance companies should also be interested in adding art and music therapy to medical coverage.

Health insurance companies often view mental health as less of a priority and do not take the problems and their treatment seriously. The evidence suggests that the named approach is faulty, as behavioral care is provided almost six times more frequently than physical assistance (Gilroy & Lee, 2019). In such a case, the art and music therapies are actual for the general population, who are the users of health insurance.

To conclude, the art and music should be covered by the insurance companies so the patient population can afford the treatment, which is beneficial for their well-being. The technique is widely used, and there are various types, which means that everyone can find the hobby that they like. Last but not least, insurance companies should pay more attention to the issues requiring behavioral care rather than medical and surgical care.


Gilroy, A., & Lee, C. (Eds.). (2019). Art and Music: Therapy and Research. Routledge.

Khan, W. U., & Moss, H. (2017). Increasing public health awareness of and capacity for arts-based therapy in medicine. JAMA Neurology, 74(9), 1029–1030. Web.

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The creative arts have the ability to impact a person’s life more than one could imagine. They can stimulate individuals both visually and mentally in ways other things can’t. They capture our imagination in such a vibrant way that when we don’t have the words to say, the arts offer us an alternative outlet to express ourselves.

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With that being said, the creative arts are not just for casual gratification, but they can be used as a remedy for people who have experienced trauma or tribulations.

Art and music therapy — two very valid forms of therapy — can be crucial to a person’s journey to healing. Being a creator myself, there have been times when I have thought about pursuing music therapy both as a career choice and as a part of my personal healing journey. 

In doing my research about various types of therapy, I learned that in art and music therapy, therapists use creativity for the treatment and diagnosis of a number of disorders and conditions. It is used in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, private practices and other sites where medical treatment occurs. I also discovered, however, that health insurance carriers do not cover art or music therapy.

It’s disheartening to even begin to comprehend this because it makes me think health insurance companies don’t believe in the power of art and music therapy. They aren’t willing to take the time to understand how effective these methods can be on one’s road to healing, despite all the evidence to support it. 

Both art and music therapy have been apart of the healing process for many people with health conditions that include but are not limited to depression, cancer, autism and Alzheimer’s. 

Art therapy consists of a therapist guiding the patient in utilizing visual arts as an avenue to communicate their emotions. Through various mediums such as paint, pastels, and pens, the patient will convey feelings that may be extremely difficult to express in words. It is often used when dealing with trauma, grief, addiction, stress, and anxiety. The benefits of art therapy include conflict resolution, a feeling of self-fulfillment and better ways to cope with pain.

I have personally sought after music therapists in the San Diego area and as a college student, it is almost unrealistic nor a wise option for me to pursue at this time merely because of financial setbacks. I don’t have the money to pay out of pocket for regular therapy so thankfully, I have insurance to cover it. 

Music therapy has been proven to reduce pain, stress, and loneliness, all of which are all things I have become accustomed to in my life — especially as an out-of-state college student here at San Diego State. I just wish insurance carriers would add music therapy to the wide array of things they cover so I could utilize this alternative route as I heal over time.

With music therapy, the objective goes hand-in-hand with the proven fact that music can be used to improve one’s life by relieving depression, stress, and lowering heart rate. This doesn’t just get the patient involved with listening to music, but they sing, play instruments and write songs as well. Music therapy helps with improving the way the patient communicates.

As someone who is a musician and an aspiring music producer, my everlasting question is this: Why can’t art and music therapy be accessible to a college student like me?

Or more importantly, why can’t art and music therapy be covered by health insurance so a college student like me can continue to work toward obtaining a level of peace that I’ve been dreaming about for a long time?

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Health insurance carriers should take this evidence into consideration and actively engage in conversations regarding pushing towards routes they can take to cover art and music therapy fees for the benefits of us all. Not covering these forms of therapy is depriving their patients of healing. 

Trinity Bland is a sophomore studying journalism. Follow her on Twitter @trinityaliciaa.

We want to help you make educated healthcare decisions. While this post may have links to lead generation forms, this won’t influence our writing. We adhere to strict editorial standards to provide the most accurate and unbiased information.

Creative therapies, such as music and art therapy, continue to grow in popularity as complementary services for those seeking mental health treatments. They’re typically coordinated with other doctors to improve your quality of life.

Whether it’s an individual or group session, you’ll express yourself through different types of art and music. You’ll choose the color, texture, sounds, and rhythm of your work that reflect your current mood. The best part about creative therapies? You won’t need any experience or background in music or art to benefit from these services.

Benefits of Complementary Therapy

“Images and image making are important in art therapy, as it’s a tangible object that comes from a patient’s internal world,” according to Stephanie Gorski, an art therapy specialist based in New York City. Gorski has worked with children and adults living with depression, anxiety, and trauma.

From Gorski’s experience, she’s found that art therapy “can be used to further explore in order to encourage growth or greater insight.”

Researchers have conducted many clinical studies on the efficacy of music and art therapy. Art therapy has been proven to significantly reduce symptoms in many mood disorders. Creating and listening to music has also been shown to affect the emotion regulating brain structures.

Nonverbal communication for individuals with mental illnesses can boost overall feelings of well-being. Studies continue to indicate the improvement in the quality of life, cognition, and moods of individuals who participate in art and music therapy.

Art therapy is “often helpful for more emotionally guarded patients as it can be less direct and feel less threatening,” Gorski says. Through expressive therapy, many have developed better social skills, managed their stress, and resolved internal conflicts.

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Health Insurance and Expressive Therapies

In 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ordered all major medical plans to cover 10 “essential health benefits”. One of the benefits is “mental health and substance use disorder services”. This means that if you have ACA-compliant health insurance, it will cover treatments for mental disorders such as therapy or prescription drugs.

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Fully-Licensed Practitioners Only: Whether or not your insurer covers costs for art or music therapies depends on your creative therapist’s credentials. Your health plan probably won’t cover practitioners who exclusively provide music or art therapy in outpatient settings. An art therapy degree doesn’t necessarily make the cut.

However, you might be reimbursed if he or she is a certified psychologist or psychiatrist who also offers services in creative therapies.

You’ll Need A “Medically Necessary” Referral: Health insurance companies review your creative therapy reimbursement on a case-by-case basis. In order for your insurer to cover sessions with a music or art therapist, the sessions will have to be specified as medically necessary.

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Medically necessary status is not a difficult thing to attain. It means that a separate mental health worker or a primary care physician with a connection to your plan will have to prescribe creative therapy as your treatment.

Similar to traditional therapy, you’ll still pay your usual coinsurance or copayment after your visit. You may also have a limit to the number of visits for rehabilitative therapy services.

Costs for supplies and equipment used in a therapy session will be included in the medical bill. However, if you’re interested in partaking in projects at home, you’ll have to pay for these on your own.

Out-of-Network: Art and music therapists often operate as out-of-network providers. As long as your plan is not an HMO, you’ll probably be able to see providers outside of your insurance network. However, your health insurance will reimburse less of the fee from your sessions.

Medicare and Creative Therapy: Medicare Part B includes outpatient care for mental health. Medicare can reimburse music and art therapists, if your visit is prescribed by a physician as medically necessary. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your provider takes Medicare (and that you have proper supplement insurance) to avoid expensive out-of-pocket costs.

Similarly, Medicare Advantage plans will cover active therapies that would have been covered by Medicare Part B.

What Is Art Therapy?

Art therapy combines visual and tactile experiences with psychotherapy. Visits with a licensed professional might include drawing, painting, sculpting, or taking photos. You determine the medium, complexity, and style of your artwork while speaking with your therapist.

A session with Emery Mikel, the founder of Water & Stone Creative Arts Therapy, starts out with her clients making a small drawing. This initiates a conversation between the two of them. During this time, Mikel will “offer art supplies and pose specific questions or directions that hone in on something the person is saying, feeling, or uncertain about.” Together, Mikel says, they’ll end their session by setting a goal for the following week.

What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy includes a variety of exposure to music and sounds. You might listen to a recording, play an instrument, or sing during a session with a professional. Music therapy works to evoke emotion and memories in patients as they respond to what they hear.

Listening to music can also be soothing as it reduces anxiety and stress in individuals. While your music therapist won’t teach you how to play a new instrument, you’ll still be able to express yourself through rhythm, tempo, and volume. Even without background knowledge of music, you can harmonize with a music therapist.

How Do I Find a Therapist?

Art and music therapists may work at hospitals, nursing centers, or community organizations.

They may also practice privately from an office, typically as an out-of-network provider.

If you can’t afford art or music therapy, local programs may offer sessions at no cost.

Art therapist Mikel emphasizes that “finding the right therapist and taking the time to build rapport, supports a person in doing [art therapy] in a safe environment.”

No matter your age, gender, or health status, creative therapies offer a way for people to cope and resolve conflicts. Both art and music therapy have continued to show improvement in patients with mental illnesses. With the rise of complementary therapies, more insurance companies are partnering up with art and music therapists to provide coverage.