If you’re wondering whether you should see a physical therapist, you probably should.
The benefits of non-invasive physical therapy are wide ranging and include pain relief, restoration of function and movement, injury adaptation, ease of healing, and reduced need for surgery.
But is physical therapy covered by insurance? Read on to find out.
Physical Therapists are Movement Experts
Basically, if you have pain or any trouble associated with movement, you can likely benefit from physical therapy.
Physical therapists are trained in the mechanics of movement — many PTs these days are doctors — and areas of expertise can include back and neck pain, arthritis, hand and wrist injuries, headaches, fractures, osteoporosis, pediatric development, COPD, TBI, and stroke, among others.
Whatever the trouble is, a physical therapist can probably help. Even if a PT can’t address the underlying causes of some conditions, they can often at least ease the pain.
Is Physical Therapy Expensive?
There are plenty of reasons you might want to see a physical therapist, but the one worry that might be keeping you away is the cost of physical therapy.
You can often consider physical therapy and investment — something that might prevent higher future medical bills by stopping a problem before it gets worse.
But still, money is money and sometimes it’s tight. And without insurance, physical therapy costs can run from a few hundred dollars to many thousands, depending on treatment needs.
So Is Physical Therapy Covered by Insurance?
Fortunately the answer is yes, usually. Always check with your own insurance company first, of course. And you may or may not need a referral from your doctor. Depending on your insurance company and the state you live in and the problem you’re seeking help for, you might be able to make an appointment directly with a physical therapist.
If your insurance covers physical therapy, your costs could range from $10 to $75 copay per session and possibly 10–50% coinsurance.
What if You Don’t Have Insurance?
If you need to pay for physical therapy out of pocket, try to negotiate a reduced rate in exchange for upfront cash payments. Clinics are often more than willing to agree. You can also look for low- or no-cost physical therapy at community clinics and healthcare learning facilities.
Other ways to keep costs down are to be a good patient. Compliance with your PT’s instructions means quicker healing and fewer visits. You also don’t need to visit the PT for every exercise session. Prescribed exercises can often be completed at home on your own.
Are There Other Medical Specialties Similar to Physical Therapy?
Your first step when seeking medical advice should probably be your family doctor. They might not be able to treat your specific condition, but they’re trained to investigate underlying causes and pick up on any other potentially dangerous conditions. Your annual checkup is important.
Other than your family doctor and your PT, there are several other types of healthcare professionals you might consider:
- Occupational Therapist — Similar to a physical therapist, but rather than focusing on healing, recovery, and functional movement, an occupational therapist uses both exercise and problem solving to help patients find ways to engage in daily activities such as self care, homemaking, and work.
- Chiropractor — An alternative medical treatment that seeks pain relief through hands-on manipulation of the spine and skeletal structure.
- Osteopath — A complementary therapy meant to be used alongside traditional medical treatment. Also relies on non-invasive manual adjustments of joints, muscles, and spine.
- Podiatrist — Specializes in the foot and ankle.
- Massage Therapist — More manual non-invasive manipulation, this time of soft body tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- Acupuncturist — Alternative medicine involving the placement of needles into the skin with the goal of pain relief and relaxation.
If you’re wondering whether physical therapy is covered by insurance, you’ll likely have similar questions about these medical specialties as well. The answer is generally the same: check with your insurance provider first to make sure. Eligibility varies depending on where you live, what your injury is, and what treatment you’re seeking.
Working With a Physical Therapist
Once you’ve decided on a physical therapist and confirmed that your physical therapy is covered by insurance, it’s time to make your appointment. Remember that PTs can be certified in nine specialty areas, so be sure to choose one that meets your needs.
At your first physical therapy appointment you can expect a thorough review of your condition. A treatment plan will be given to you, and often you’ll be instructed in exercises you’ll need to perform. It’s important that you stick to the plan and keep your PT informed of progress and setbacks — otherwise you might end up needed additional treatments down the line and another round of dealing with your insurance company!