“Affordable, accessible and de-stigmatized mental health care: That’s what Joyce Marter and her business partner, Lori Hall, planned when they opened the first Urban Balance office in 2004.
Both were in private practice and turning away dozens of clients; rather than continue to send them away, the two decided to accept all insurance, take whatever payments insurers would offer and make up the difference in volume. ‘We love clinical work, but we’re business-minded, too,’ Ms. Marter says. They chose the name Urban Balance for its accessibility, all part of their plan to make mental health care ‘not a secret, underground thing,’ she says.
Today, Urban Balance accepts most insurance and is in- network with most plans; Ms. Marter says the average co-pay for clients is $15 to $40 per session, compared with $100 to $200 for private-practice therapists who do not accept insurance.
She expects billings, which have tripled each year since 2004, to reach $3.9 million this year. Urban Balance now has five offices: downtown, Ravens-wood, Evanston, Libertyville and Lake Geneva, Wis. Plans are to open offices in La Grange, Orland Park and Wicker Park/Bucktown by the end of 2011 and to begin national expansion in 2012.
Also in the works: an iPhone app for clients to track their moods and medications, and a website offering Yelp-like reviews of local wellness resources.”