Physical therapy has benefits that go well beyond aches and sprains. Treatment can help patients live healthier lives when they have greater access to a physical therapist. Maybe it’s simply the warm touch of a kind person, but physical therapy does help people feel better, even if it doesn’t always cure the treated condition. A recent study shows that insurance companies who allow patients to see a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral have fewer illnesses and end up costing insurers less money in the long run. Some call this direct access physical therapy. Not only does it save insurance company’s money, it saves uninsured individuals the cost of an initial doctor’s visit.
Direct Access Care
With direct access, patients no longer need to see the primary care physician for a referral before seeking the help of a physical therapist. This helps in many ways. First, patients are quicker to schedule appointments when they are in pain, treatment muscular conditions more quickly before they turn into major problems. However, direct access care is not available everywhere. In many states, the law requires that a physician, nurse practitioner or dentist prescribe any physical therapy treatment regiments. Given that physical therapy can do much good and little harm, many states are changing those regulations, with certain limitations.
For instance, some laws require a therapist to be licensed for at least three years before a patient can come for treatment without a doctor’s order. Others require a doctor’s visit if the patient seeks physical therapy for an extended time or for a specified number of visits. Once that threshold is reached, the patient cannot gain further direct access care without visiting a doctor first.
How to Save on Physical Therapy Treatment
Although a physical therapist salary is high, and therefore the cost of treatment can be high for the average person, there are ways to get physical therapy treatment at a reduced cost. To understand why you can get cheaper services, it’s important to understand how health insurance works.
Physical therapy bills are high, around $150 for an initial visit and evaluation. Subsequent visits run around $75 depending on the specific treatment and your condition. However, the insurance company doesn’t pay anywhere near that. They have an agreement with just about every physical therapy office to pay a reduced rate. Therapists accept the lower rate because it guarantees a swift payment from the insurance company, instead of chasing patients for the bill. You can get the benefit of a lower rate in exchange for guaranteed payment by paying cash at the time of your visit. While not all therapy offices work this way, the health insurance crisis has spurred huge growth in cash-paid office visits.
You won’t know if your physical therapist gives discounts in exchange for cash unless you ask. Some offices will mention the option to you when you book your first appointment and tell them you have no health insurance. If you have a pending appointment, call now to find out if you can pay cash to save money. You’ll be able to afford the care you need and live a healthier life in the long run.
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