Think you need a referral from a physician to see a physical therapist? Well, you don’t. Every state allows for evaluation and treatment from a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral with Direct Access legislation. And eliminating that arbitrary barrier results in more effective and quicker healthcare. Think about it. You wake up with an aching back that gets worse instead of better. You call the doctor and discover that you can’t be seen until three more days. That’s three more days of pain. With direct access to a physical therapist, you can see a physical therapist today and jump-start your recovery. The sooner you get to see a physical therapist, the sooner you’ll be on the road to feeling better. Plus, it saves you money and allows you to get back to your regular lifestyle quicker. Direct access is all about making personal choice without burdensome regulations. It puts you in the driver’s seat of your own healthcare.
Which Insurance Plans Cover Direct Access?
Although insurance is always changing Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and many private health insurance companies are covered under Direct Access. And as long as the physical therapist establishes a plan of care for the patient, care is covered under Medicare. Just keep in mind that for continued treatment, the physical therapist must have the plan of care approved and signed off by a licensed doctor.
Debunking Some of the Myths About Direct Access
Many folks think that Direct Access only applies to private outpatient physical therapy treatments. But, it also applies to treatment in pediatric centers, private home care, school systems, hospitals and on the sports field. Direct Access is much more commonplace that what people realize.
Another myth is that Direct Access doesn’t exist in all states. The truth is that Direct Access is available in some form in all states, including the District of Columbia. There just may be some type of restriction on the type of service and quantity of physical therapy services. There may be some limitations for Direct Access, but the groundwork has been laid, and the rules will be shifting in the future.
Studies about Direct Access in physical therapy have shown that:
- “patients reported a higher level of satisfaction when they received physical therapy through direct access versus physician referral, and
- patients receiving physical therapy through direct access versus referral had better outcomes at discharge.”
All around, Direct Access is changing the landscape of healthcare.