Online Therapy/psychiatry is great! Especially for patients who have trouble attending in-person appointments. It also greatly helps those who are pressed for time.
Virtual mental healthcare platforms or apps optimize access to top-quality mental/physical care. And even provide a wide range of accessibility options with specialists residing in nearby areas.
One positive development during the pandemic was when the COVID-19 years coincided with the successful beginning of online healthcare. Now we have over 10,000 mental healthcare apps. These digital platforms are built to seamlessly serve the rapidly rising mentally affected patients in a more streamlined manner.
However, there are many challenges when it comes to choosing the right platform as per your healthcare requirements or mental/physical problems. Have you researched all of them?
It is practically next to impossible for a single individual to accomplish this task – to review these services and their performances in different aspects that matter before making a sound decision.
Our comparison series will add one more useful article today! It will help you fortify your research done so far on choosing the right mental healthcare platform. We will compare BetterHelp and Amwell in this blog.
There is a growing need for mental health treatments with rising complexities in mental disorders, their manifestation, and their prognosis. BetterHelp is one of the leading platforms striving to increase mental therapy accessibility worldwide.
The platform was established in 2013 by founders Alon Matas and Danny Bragonier. Later, in January 2015, BetterHelp was acquired by another telehealth giant called Teladoc Health. The platform is headquartered in San Francisco, California.
BetterHelp was created to break down the stigma and conventional barriers to mental healthcare globally. It is built to ensure that everyone in the world can effortlessly access and afford top-notch mental healthcare from well-qualified, licensed therapists.
With an excellent network of more than 30,000 licensed clinicians, BetterHelp offers high-quality and custom mental health treatment plans over an easily accessible, seamless online platform. And that too at extremely reasonable prices compared to traditional therapy services.
Amwell, or American Wellness, was founded in 2006 by Ido Schoenberg and Roy Schoenberg in Boston, Massachusetts.
It is a global telemedicine and telehealth platform built to cover all aspects of mental and physical healthcare holistically. This includes chronic care management, emergency services, lifestyle improvement support, mental healthcare, psychiatry, and more.
Amwell is an efficient healthcare ecosystem that offers in-person, online, and automated healthcare services. It aims to bring together patients, providers, insurers, and tech innovators to provide comprehensive healthcare to patients around the world.
The platform has a dedicated team of healthcare specialists and state-of-the-art digital technologies catering to more than 150 million people worldwide.
BetterHelp vs Amwell Review and Comparison 
In this section, we will look into the key differences between BetterHelp and Amwell so that you know what is best for you towards the end of the article.
1. How Does it Work?
How flexibly do these platforms function and let you book appointments? This section will provide more details.
BetterHelp only specializes in online mental talk therapy or psychotherapy.
I started by signing up with a quick questionnaire. It asked me questions to roughly understand the following:
- The raw emotions I was going through
- My identity and sexual orientation
- Information about my mental health condition
- My treatment preferences
My responses to the above questions were then fed into a semi-automated algorithm that helped me choose the right therapist. I could even switch my therapists multiple times if I needed someone who would better understand my needs. So, there is always scope for better therapy, better treatment progress, and overall outcome.
This is great to freeze the best treatment approach and address complex mental disorders more effectively. It can go a long way in sustainable, long-term emotional healing which generally is a long-drawn-out process.
Every therapist will have unique ways to evaluate, interrogate, and treat mental health patients. So, I would advise you to extensively vet counselor profiles and continue changing them until you find the one that best fits your therapy needs.
I started by creating an individual patient account on Amwell’s website. It asked for all my details, after which I chose behavioral health services. Next, I got the chance to pick from a variety of additional services such as collaborative care, psychiatry, therapy, and more.
I was easily able to select my preferred provider and set an appropriate date/time for my appointment. There is no algorithm or semi-automated system for matching patients with the right clinicians.
Also, Amwell does not follow a subscription payment model to commit to. So, I paid for my appointments on a per-session basis. Usually, my therapist and I met once or twice a week. We had the freedom to discuss and mutually decide the frequency of our sessions depending on my custom treatment plan and progress.
My initial virtual session went on for about 26 minutes. However, most of my scheduled appointments lasted for a good 45 minutes. You can increase or reduce session durations based on treatment needs.
I occasionally felt the need to have one-hour meetings to address some of my difficult emotional needs. In my opinion, the general duration of 45 minutes can be extended slightly to tackle more complex mental disorders more efficiently.
The flexibility to book appointments on the weekend is what I liked the most. People with hectic schedules will appreciate the option to set evening post-work or weekend appointments without missing crucial work hours.
The treatment approach is the call of the therapist. The counselor also planned various homework activities for me outside of my regular therapy sessions to supplement the main treatment plan.
If psychiatric assistance or a prescription is required, video consultations are compulsory. The initial session lasts for about 45 minutes. Whereas follow-up sessions are shorter and take about 15 minutes. Prescriptions are sent to the nearest pharmacy and there is also an option to message psychiatric providers between the sessions.
You could also sign up for Amwell’s collaborative care, which provides the following:
- Primary Healthcare
- Nutrition guidance
- Comprehensive psychiatric treatment or integrated mental healthcare.
This is great for those who want to prioritize both physical and psychological or mental healthcare in a single package. I liked the flexible and easy-to-follow appointment booking system. Searching through local providers was a breeze. Overall, I am happy with how Amwell worked.
Pricing of online healthcare plans could be a potential deal-breaker. This section explains and compares the pricing structures of BetterHelp and Amwell.
BetterHelp charges between $60 to $90 per week, billed monthly. However, this is determined by factors like where I live, my treatment needs, my schedule/available time slots, the availability and experience of my counselor, and so on.
I would recommend discussing all the details with your therapist to get a rough estimate of how much your sessions would cost. You can then book your live video sessions as and when required. Your therapist will also guide you depending on the severity of your mental health condition.
I had the option of unlimited messaging to my therapist during this duration. Mine was a basic plan that included one session per week, but the platform has not set any upper limits on the number of live sessions, in particular. BetterHelp is definitely more affordable than Amwell.
Therapy costs with Amwell range from $109 to $129. Whereas psychiatric assistance costs $109 to $279 per consultation. Neither a monthly subscription commitment nor an initial payment is required.
The cost of counseling and physical care depends on the qualifications and the total experience of the provider.
The first 45-minute psychiatric evaluation costs $279 and a 15-minute follow-up session is priced at $109.
All in all, my treatment/consultation costs at Amwell were determined by multiple factors such as:
- The type of care chosen. For instance, urgent or emergency care will be pricier
- The type of provider, their certifications/qualifications, and his or her treatment approach/protocol
- Prescription management services will cost more
- The duration of the phone or video session
- The complexity and severity of my health condition
3. Insurance Coverage
Are these platforms insurance-friendly? Let us find out in this section.
BetterHelp does not provide any insurance coverage as it has reasonably-priced mental healthcare services. However, the platform does offer some cost relaxation to students, veterans, and low-income patients who may desperately need mental health treatment.
Amwell is expensive compared to BetterHelp. So, owing to higher self-pay rates, the platform does accept insurance plans from the majority of the top insurance providers. Some of them include:
- Academic HealthPlans (AHP)
- United Healthcare
- Beacon Health
- Health Tradition and 47 more such popular insurance carriers
However, insurance coverage is only available for urgent care consultations. Any session with a specialist is not eligible for reimbursement. HSA/FSA card payments can be made and Amwell also provides a superbill if your insurance plan is not on the list.
I had no insurance coverage. But, if you do, you can add your insurance information during the account set-up process. This way, you are already informed about your insurance co-pay or subsidized consultation cost based on your particular health plan.
Let us discuss the national and international availability of healthcare services offered by BetterHelp and Amwell.
BetterHelp’s virtual mental therapy services are available in the US and even across other countries around the world. Accessibility is not an issue for both BetterHelp and Amwell.
Anyone worldwide looking for easily accessible, 24/7, on-demand online mental healthcare can find it on Amwell.
Amwell’s prescription management services are available in most states via strict video appointments. However, you can get prescriptions via phone sessions if you reside in any of the following states in the US:
- District of Columbia
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- New York
Are the privacy policies just some random rules laid down on a piece of paper or are they taken seriously by these platforms? Let us address your privacy concerns here.
There are many concerns regarding BetterHelp’s patient privacy protection practices. What it claims, is not what it necessarily follows.
The platform was caught red-handed following unethical practices. It was fined by the FTC for dishonoring patient privacy and sharing their sensitive details with third-party social media platforms.
Although BetterHelp claims to be 100 percent HIPAA-compliant, I am a little doubtful given its past controversy. So, I would advise you to make a careful decision here.
Amwell’s healthcare services are:
- HITRUST CSF-certified
So, your session interactions and personal information will be fully confidential. They are protected by Amwell’s stringent security measures and internationally accepted data safety standards.
6. Available Treatments
This section enlists the various health conditions treated at BetterHelp and Amwell.
BetterHelp provides online talk therapy to tackle the following mental health conditions for adults aged 18 years and older.
- Midlife Crisis
- Anxiety disorders
- Grief management
- Love, family issues
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Huntington’s disease
- Marriage problems
- Panic attack
- Parenting issues
- Personality disorders
- Impulse control disorder
- Bipolar disorder and more
Amwell specializes in holistic care and provides online therapy, psychiatry, urgent care, and more. Here is a quick list:
- Women’s health such as breastfeeding and post-partum issues
- Nutrition counseling
- Depression and anxiety
- Pink eye
- Sinus infection
- Strep throat
- Second opinion on multiple health issues and more
You can check for additional treatments by going to the “treatable conditions” section from the footer. This allows you to search for specific health conditions alphabetically.
7. Pros and Cons of BetterHelp
I will be summarizing the important pros and cons of using BetterHelp and Amwell in this part of the article.
- BetterHelp has an extensive team of more than 30,000 licensed mental health clinicians.
- The services are available worldwide
- BetterHelp is more affordable than most of its competitors including Amwell
- The platform supports therapy sessions via phone calls, video calls, and live chat
- It also provides the option of unlimited messaging
- It offers convenient, subscription-based pricing
- There are many resources such as in-app tools and other features for supporting the primary treatment
- It offers financial aid offered to students, veterans, and low-income groups
- The platform is HIPAA-compliant
- BetterHelp does not provide insurance coverage
- The platform only specializes in talk therapy
- BetterHelp follows a dynamic or surge pricing model so calculating a rough estimate in advance is tricky
- It was fined by the FTC for compromising patient privacy
- The platform does not accept Medicare and Medicaid to reduce your treatment costs
8. Pros and Cons of Amwell
- Amwell is a convenient online holistic Integrated healthcare platform
- It provides Insurance coverage with 55 in-network plans
- The comprehensive platform has something for everyone, be it providers, patients, private practice clinicians and insurers
- It offers mental talk therapy for children aged 10 years or more as well as adults
- The accessibility score is 10/10 as the services are available across the US and even globally
- 24×7 Urgent care, collaborative care, psychotherapy, and psychiatry are all offered on a single platform by Amwell
- No subscription commitment is necessary as you pay per session
- Appointment scheduling and selecting providers is a breeze
- The mobile app is smooth and user-friendly
- Amwell also provides prescription management services
- Prescription management by Amwell restricts prescribing controlled substances
- Prescription management has certain state-wise restrictions
- Psychiatric assistance and prescription management are available only to adults
- Amwell specialty services need upfront payment
- Not all specialist providers are covered by insurance at Amwell
- Amwell’s healthcare services are not as affordable as BetterHelp and other similar competitors
In terms of the services provided, Amwell is a more comprehensive platform than BetterHelp. It covers a wide range of healthcare options for a diverse group of age groups.
BetterHelp is great only if online counseling is your topmost priority. However, Amwell is better if you are required to consult doctors and psychiatrists for more holistic healthcare.
Also, there are some explicitly highlighted privacy issues on BetterHelp. Having your medical records and personal information leaked without your permission is one of the worst possible things that could happen to a patient.
If you want your sensitive details to remain private between you and your provider, your go-to platform must be HIPAA-compliant on paper and otherwise too. The sad part is, that even though BetterHelp follows HIPAA regulations, it is known to have failed the patient privacy protection test miserably.
If I were you, I would take the free trial on BetterHelp. But eventually prefer being treated at Amwell.
She is an experienced Clinical Psychologist and Mental Health Writer with a decade of expertise in psychology. Skilled in assessment, therapy, and patient care. Committed to helping individuals through clinical practice and mental health writing at Therapyjourney.co. Passionate about promoting mental well-being and awareness. Open to aligned opportunities.