PlushCare Online Therapy Review

An easy-to-use, straightforward online health platform.

PlushCare

PlushCare

PlushCare offers telemedicine services, including online therapy and medication management. While communication with your therapist outside sessions is limited, navigating the platform is easy. We like how straightforward the services are, but wish there were more providers on the platform to choose from. 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Can cancel appointments up to two hours before scheduled start time without a charge
  • Can choose your own provider
  • Therapists all licensed with bachelor’s degrees or higher
  • App and website easy to navigate 
  • Reliable video calls
  • Can cancel membership at any time
  • Regular appointment reminders

Cons

  • Provider options are limited
  • Membership fee on top of appointment costs
  • Prices on the higher end of online therapy platforms
  • Must send messages through customer service to reach therapist outside of sessions
  • Sessions are 45 minutes, no option for longer sessions
  • Does not accept insurance for online therapy, including Medicare or Medicaid 
  • Getting in touch with customer service can be difficult 

Accessing quality mental health services is not always easy—especially if you live in a therapy desert. Therapy deserts are areas across the United States where therapy services are limited (if available at all), resulting in patients having to commute long distances in order to receive care. Online health and therapy platforms aim to bridge this gap by making therapy available to anyone with an internet connection and the means to afford the care. 

PlushCare is an online platform offering therapy and medication management services to patients in every state in America. In addition to surveying 105 users to gauge their satisfaction with the platform, I personally signed up for PlushCare to share a first-hand experience. I also spoke with subject matter experts to get their input on the service. Here’s everything we learned. 

What Is PlushCare?

PlushCare was founded in 2015 by James Wantuck, MD, and Ryan McQuaid. They were hoping to create an online space where patients would receive quality healthcare, because they believed the patient experience in the U.S. was lacking. 

Early in 2020, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, PlushCare received $23 million in funding to expand its service—and its success only grew as coronavirus spread and more and more people began relying on telehealth to receive care. Then, in June 2021, PlushCare was acquired by Accolade, another healthcare company with a similar goal of providing excellent care to patients in the U.S.  

What Services Does PlushCare Offer?

Currently, PlushCare offers primary care, urgent care, prescription medication management (including mental health medications), and online therapy. 

All of PlushCare’s online therapy providers are licensed in the state where they practice and have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. Patients can choose their therapist based on their personal needs, and each session lasts 45 minutes. At this time, therapy is limited to individuals—the company does not offer couples or family sessions. 

For medication management, PlushCare matches patients with a board-certified physician (no referral necessary) who will go through an evaluation and then work with them to find the right medication for their unique conditions and circumstances. The company does accept some insurance plans for medication management services, and it’s able to send your prescriptions to your local pharmacy. It is important to note, however, that PlushCare’s website does not promise to match you with a psychiatrist specifically—when it says you’ll be evaluated by a “board-certified physician.” it could be a doctor with a different specialty. In fact, only 52% of our survey respondents reported seeing either a psychiatrist or a psychiatric nurse practitioner for their mental health appointment.  

Who Is PlushCare For?

While you can see a PlushCare therapist for conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety, PlushCare doctors do not prescribe controlled substances, such as Xanax, Adderall, and Ativan. 

For patients seeking individual online therapy, some of the conditions the company treats include:

  • ADHD 
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Family issues
  • Grief and loss
  • LGBTQIA+ issues
  • Parenting issues
  • Postpartum depression/anxiety
  • Substance use
  • Stress
  • Trauma

PlushCare’s online therapy homepage makes a point to mention the platform has providers from diverse backgrounds, who speak different languages, and who are allies of certain communities, such as LGBTQIA+. 

How Much Does PlushCare Cost?

PlushCare’s pricing is a bit more complicated than some other platforms. First, in order to join the platform, you have to pay a $15 per month membership fee (which is not covered by insurance, regardless of whether or not your service is). 

For medication management, you’ll be charged the cost of your co-pay if your insurance covers the appointment. If your insurance does not cover your appointment, you’ll be charged $129 for your evaluation and $69 for each follow-up visit (this does not include the price of prescriptions). 

For online therapy, in addition to the $15 monthly membership fee, you will either pay $169 for a single 45-minute session or $149 per session if you schedule weekly appointments. 

Compared to other platforms, PlushCare is on the higher end of pricing for online therapy—especially when you consider the additional cost of membership. Personally, I found the price to be too high, especially since I do not have the time to dedicate to weekly appointments. However, 58% of respondents in our survey said PlushCare’s pricing was either very affordable or affordable.

Does PlushCare Take Insurance?

If you are seeking medication management for mental health conditions, you can pay for services using your insurance. PlushCare accepts Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Humana (non-Medicare), Medi-Cal, and UnitedHealthcare PPO plans, but not Medicare or Medicaid. 

While the company does accept insurance for its medical services, it does not accept insurance for its therapy services at this time. A customer service representative did tell me the company hopes to offer that benefit “soon.” Until then, you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

Does PlushCare Offer Discounts?

Your first 30 days of PlushCare membership are free (but you do have to enter your credit card information so the company can begin charging once your trial is over). There are no discounts for medication management services, but you do get a free 15-minute call with your therapist before booking an appointment for online therapy. Additionally, if you’re scheduling weekly therapy appointments, the price per session drops from $169 to $149. 

Navigating the PlushCare Website

PlushCare’s website is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. The homepage is clean, with options for different areas of treatment clearly marked across the top: Online Doctor, Online Prescriptions, Urgent Care, Mental Health, Online Therapy, and a huge button that says “Book Appointment.” 

Homepage

It’s important to note that you can book any type of appointment from the homepage, but you’ll find more in-depth information and likely have an easier time navigating to the correct booking category by clicking on your desired area of treatment (Mental Health for medication management and Online Therapy for counseling services). 

As you scroll down the homepage, you’ll find an overview of the kinds of doctors PlushCare employs, including the option to click a button to learn more about its providers. There’s also a summary of the company’s app, with the option to learn more about how it works.

Plushcare

Further down the page, you’ll find information on what insurance PlushCare accepts (note: this does not apply to online therapy) as well as the company’s pricing. Finally, you can quickly and easily access user reviews right from the homepage, as there are several posted from review pages on Yelp and Apple. 

FAQs

At the very bottom of the homepage, you will see a list of links to learn more about the company, navigate to each area of treatment, contact customer service, access FAQs, and more. Additionally, there are links to the company’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages, as well as easy links to download the PlushCare app onto an iOS or Android device. 

I found the website to be very easy to use and browse through, and 69% of users surveyed agreed, noting they found the site either very easy or easy to navigate. 

Does PlushCare Have an App?

PlushCare does have an app that’s available to download on Android and Apple devices. Through the app, you can see the same information you’d find on your dashboard on the website, message your care team, book an appointment, and view notifications, such as appointment reminders and account alerts. You can also use the app to join video sessions with your provider (however, I opted to do this through the website, as I prefer to use my computer for video chats whenever possible). 

How Do You Sign Up for Therapy at PlushCare?

Signing up for a therapy session through PlushCare was incredibly quick and easy. I simply navigated to the online therapy section of the website, then clicked the “Book Appointment” button on the main page. I was prompted to select my state, and from there I was presented with a list of providers to choose from. 

Plushcare2

Once you’ve signed up for the service, you’ll have access to a patient portal that includes your dashboard, which lists out your upcoming appointment(s), primary care physician information (if applicable), visit history, prescriptions, test results, and general health information. 

There is also a menu at the top where you can easily access your account information, see your balance information, view your profile, view messages, and log out. Additionally, you can send a message to your care team using a link at the top right hand of the screen.

Choosing a Therapist at PlushCare

PlushCare does not match you with a therapist. You get to choose your own, which I really appreciated. Once you select which state you are in, you’ll be presented with a list of therapists who are licensed where you live. I was only provided with three options in my state, two white women and a Black woman. 

While all three therapists seemed to be well-qualified, I was disappointed to find such a short list of possible providers, since so much of therapy is about matching with the right therapist (which isn’t always easy). Curious, I also searched options for California, which has a significantly higher population than my home state, and only 10 providers appeared on the list, leading me to believe PlushCare does not have the roster of therapists a lot of other more widely known online therapy companies do. 

I was able to click on each therapist to read the bio they wrote themselves and view their background, training, languages spoken, and patient reviews. Since there were only three  therapists available to me, my research was fairly easy; I simply chose the provider whose bio appeared to match my needs best and then booked the appointment. 

After choosing my therapist, I was able to select what kind of appointment I wanted to schedule (single session for $169 or multiple weekly sessions for $149 each). Then the provider’s schedule became available so I could select the day and time that worked best for me. 

From there, I was asked to fill in some basic information, such as my name, address, date of birth, and phone number. Next, I was taken to a summary page where I inputted my payment information (and was automatically signed up for my free 30-day trial membership), and clicked “confirm appointment.” The process took under five minutes and was very user-friendly. 

Nearly 77% of our survey respondents found the sign-up process at PlushCare to be either very easy or easy, and none rated the experience as difficult or very difficult.

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at PlushCare?

Therapy sessions are through either the PlushCare website or the app (there is no third-party platform for sessions, which I appreciated). You’ll get several reminder emails and phone notifications in the days and hours leading up to your appointment. 

Once it’s time to start, you’ll log into your account and find a button on your dashboard to check in for your appointment. This takes you to your video chat (you’ll have to allow access to your camera and mic, but if you want the appointment to be audio-only you can deny camera access). 

Video Sessions

Once you’re signed in, you wait until your provider is available, and their video will pop up when it’s time to start. On your end, you will not have a countdown timer, but one of my therapists told me that they have a clock on their side of the platform that tells them how much time is remaining in the session. When the appointment is over, you and/or your therapist can end the call, and you’ll be taken back to your dashboard. 

During both of my video sessions, the video was grainy and froze up at least twice in each appointment. However, the audio quality was great and never cut out. Each appointment was scheduled for 45 minutes, and both providers gave me my full time. That being said, my first therapist spend the first five or so minutes going over formalities, such as pricing, verifying my information, and asking general intake questions. My second therapist also verified my identity and asked intake questions, but they were much more tailored to me and my needs rather than generalized like the first provider’s. 

Messaging Your Therapist

You cannot message your therapist directly between sessions. This was a major drawback for me—most other online therapy platforms offer users the option to communicate with their provider outside of appointments, but with PlushCare you have to send a message to your care team, and they forward it on to the therapist if they deem it appropriate. 

I have a couple of problems with this method. First, I don’t want to send my personal information through a care team. To take part in therapy means being extremely vulnerable, and I am not comfortable sharing my personal information with a customer service representative. Second, while you can message the care team 24/7, they have up to two days to respond to your message, so if you have a quick follow-up question for your therapist, you may wait up to two days to get a response. It’s not ideal. That being said, I messaged my care team at 10 a.m. on a weekday and received a response at 8 a.m. the following day, so I didn’t even have to wait 24 hours.

Medication Management

Just like the online therapy sessions, medication management appointments are held over the app or through the website. Your first appointment will be a consultation where your doctor will learn more about you, assess your condition(s), diagnose you, and come up with a mental healthcare plan for you. After this consultation, you’ll attend follow-up sessions which will focus on the management and maintenance of your conditions. Session length ranges from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the appointment type, and most of our survey respondents reported seeing their provider about every four weeks. 

Based on survey responses, medication management services at PlushCare are about average. Sixty-six percent of respondents said their overall experience with PlushCare’s mental health treatment was either good, very good, or excellent. But only 30% said they felt like their provider cared about their well-being, 28% felt their provider (or care team) was responsive to their questions about medication needs, and only 11% felt their doctor respected their “wants and needs” regarding the medications they were taking. 

What Happens If I Miss a Session at PlushCare?

You can cancel and reschedule any appointment without penalty up to two hours before the session starts. If you do not cancel in this timeframe or if you don’t show up at all, you are charged a $50 fee. 

You can cancel and reschedule your appointment through your dashboard, or you can contact customer service to help. 

Switching Therapists at PlushCare

Switching my therapist at PlushCare was incredibly easy. All I had to do was go through the appointment booking process and select a different provider. I did not have to go through customer service or even inform the first therapist of my desire to switch. However, when I met with the second therapist, she could see in my record that I had been seen by someone else and she asked me why I switched. It’s worth noting that her questioning this change was not intrusive, but rather she wanted to ensure she could provide me with the care that the previous therapist did not. 

Pausing or Canceling Therapy at PlushCare

If there’s one thing I will praise PlushCare for, it’s how easy it is to cancel the service. When you go to your account information page, there is a clearly marked button that says “Cancel Anytime,” meaning you don’t have to give 30 days notice or anything; you simply cancel when you want to. That being said, if you cancel mid-month, you are not reimbursed half of your membership fee—but you continue to have access to the platform until your month is up. 

After I clicked the button to cancel my membership, I was taken to a page that asked “Are you sure?” When I clicked yes, I was then taken to a page that asked me to provide feedback on why I was canceling (this is optional, you do not have to fill anything out to move forward), and then I was taken to a confirmation page. The process was very quick. It took less than three minutes. 

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

Despite some of the drawbacks to PlushCare’s platform and service, one area where it really seems to thrive is quality of care. I found my interactions with both therapists to be generally good. In fact, one of the therapists I saw was such a good match that I debated staying on the platform so that I could keep seeing her. 

I’m not alone in these feelings, either. When we surveyed users, 81% said that all or most of their needs were met by the therapist they chose on PlushCare, and 75% said their overall experience with the service was good, very good, or excellent. Additionally, 71% of survey respondents said they were either likely or very likely to recommend PlushCare to a friend. 

When asked if services at PlushCare were better than other platforms they’ve used in the past, 84% of survey respondents said they were either a little better, better, or much better. This is saying something, given that PlushCare is just one of many online therapy platforms available. 

Still, as previously mentioned, the lack of provider options can seriously impact a therapy seeker's experience. While care is available to patients across the U.S. (something that not every online therapy platform offers), the company advertises that it employs 100+ physicians and employees which includes primary care, urgent care, mental health, and therapy providers. As a white woman seeking therapy for general stress, overwhelm, and ADHD coping tools, my chances of finding a therapy provider who is qualified to meet my needs are fairly high. However, someone seeking a therapist who specializes in a less common area of treatment or who has a more diverse background might feel frustrated with how few (if any) providers meet their needs. While 83% of users said the provider diversity was good to excellent, only 3 out of 25 reviews said the therapists were more culturally supportive of BIPOC than therapists on other apps. 

Privacy Policies at PlushCare

PlushCare’s privacy policy is easily accessible through the menu at the bottom of most pages on the website (this does not include the patient portal, however). It’s written in a mixture of legalese and layman’s terms, which doesn’t make it easy to understand, but also not impossible.  

PlushCare, like most app- and internet-based companies, does collect your information from your user profile, questionnaires you fill out, and through any other means where you voluntarily input your information into their system. Additionally, it may use data collected by third parties. However, the company is HIPAA-compliant and does not share any personal information unless it is necessary for your treatment and/or you have provided consent. 

Additionally, the company has implemented systems to help protect all personal information for users, but its privacy policy clearly states “no such measure is ever 100% effective; therefore we do not guarantee that your Personal Information will be secure from theft, loss, or unauthorized access or use.” Again, this is something you’ll face with most app- and internet-based services, so while it is important to mention, PlushCare does not stand out for this reason.

PlushCare vs. Its Competitors

When comparing survey data for PlushCare’s medication management and online therapy services to Teladoc’s and Talkspace’s, the platform’s performance is hit or miss. For overall satisfaction, these two companies scored much higher: 97% of Teladoc users rated the service as good to excellent overall, and 90% of Talkspace users said the same. By contrast, only 75% of Plushcare users reported overall satisfaction.

While I did not personally try PlushCare’s medication management service, several of our survey respondents did, and it appears that this is where PlushCare really falls short compared to its competitors. When asked how they rated these psychiatry services, 66% of survey respondents ranked them as either good, very good, or excellent  When asked the same question, 90% of Talkspace users and 91% of Teladoc users rated the platform’s medication management services as good, very good, or excellent.

“The quality of medication management often depends on how long the sessions are,” explains Hannah Owens, LMSW, a subject matter expert we consulted. “If a session is only fifteen minutes, which is common amongst many online psychiatry services, there might not be enough time to really explore your questions and needs, establish a rapport with your provider, or address all your concerns. Any or all of these things affect the quality of care you receive from your prescriber.”

Looking specifically at PlushCare’s online therapy services compared to Talkspace and Teladoc, the platform beat out Talkspace in one key area, but ranked lower in the other two. Eighty percent of Talkspace users said their therapist met most or all of their needs, while 82% said the same about their experience at PlushCare, and 85% reported the same for Teladoc. 

Eighty-nine percent of survey respondents said therapist qualifications at PlushCare were good, very good, or excellent, while 94% said the same of Teladoc and 92% said the same of therapists at Talkspace. Ninety percent of users at both Talkspace and Teladoc found therapist diversity on their platforms to be good, very good, or excellent, but only 83% of respondents reported the same for PlushCare.

Final Verdict

Overall, my experience with PlushCare was generally positive. Even though the first therapist I met with wasn’t a good fit for me, she was still incredibly nice and professional, and I really was surprised by how easily I connected with the second provider I tried out. I also liked how easy it was to navigate both the website and app, and I appreciated the flexibility to cancel or reschedule an appointment up to two hours before starting. 

My feelings seem to align with survey respondents, as the majority reported positively to everything from therapist quality to navigating the website to whether or not they’d recommend the platform to friends. Between all of this user data and my own experience with the platform, PlushCare’s online therapy is definitely a service worth trying if you have the means.

Methodology

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 companies 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 worked with subject matter experts to get their expert analysis on how suited this company is to provide quality care to therapy seekers.

Key Specs

  • Price: $15 per month membership fee; $69 to $169 per session
  • Is Insurance Accepted? Yes (medication management only)
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Individual therapy, medication management
  • Communication Options: Video or audio
  • HIPAA Compliant? Yes
  • Is There an App? Yes
  • Accepts HSA or FSA? No, but will provide a receipt for reimbursement
  • Prescriptions Available? Yes
  • Billing Cadence: Monthly membership + per session cost
Edited by
Ally Hirschlag,
Ally is a senior editor for Verywell, who covers topics in the health, wellness, and lifestyle spaces. She has written for The Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC Future, and more.
Simone Scully,
Simone Scully Headshot
Simone is the health editorial director for performance marketing. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering mental health, chronic conditions, medicine, and science.
and
Olivia Campbell
A white woman with red hair and blue glasses stands in front of green trees
Olivia Campbell is a health editor for performance marketing at Verywell. She is author of the New York Times best-selling book “Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine.”
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