Insurance and Physical Therapy
- The type of physical therapy care that’s covered by insurance is usually reactive – that is, as a direct result of an accident or illness (more on this later).
- There are time constraints associated with your care. After a certain amount of sessions, insurance coverage will no longer apply.
- You may have to choose from a predetermined list of in-network physical therapists.
- You will still have out-of-pocket costs in the form of a co-pay.
This is pretty standard information; any insurance holder is likely to be able to predict it and plan accordingly. However, when we look at these guidelines in practice, what does it mean for your quality of care and your long-term wellness?
What’s Necessary and What’s “Not”
This emphasis on reactive care doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it’s important to understand that reactive physical therapy only scratches the surface of the life-changing care that’s available to patients. Preventive physical therapy is one of the most useful forms of physical therapy out there: it serves to improve mobility, strengthen the body, boost mindfulness, and stave off potentially devastating illnesses or conditions down the line, like osteoporosis, arthritis, and heart disease. It also helps patients bounce back faster from injuries caused slips, falls, and collisions.
Less is More
Because insurance companies usually place limitations on the number of sessions that patients receive, it also means that patients are very frequently discharged from their physical therapy treatment before returning to 100% of the mobility and strength they had before their injury. Holistic, long-term physical therapy presents a different approach: by offering customized care that is completely subject to change depending on a patient’s evolving needs, cash-based physical therapy doesn’t limit treatment. As a result, fewer sessions may be required on a weekly basis to see the same results that insurance-based care would provide.
All in all, there’s nothing wrong with reactive physical therapy – but there’s no overstating the benefits of preventive physical therapy. By improving strength and flexibility, diversifying mobility, and reducing the risk of injury down the line, preventive physical therapy reduces the risk of serious injury and many illnesses in the future. Insurance-based physical therapy can be a great option in the short-term. However, if you’re looking to boost long-term wellness and save plenty of time, money, and resources in physical therapy or medical bills down the line, it’s highly advisable to consider cash-based preventive physical therapy now (note: cash-based physical therapy refers to direct payment, not just cash. At Purpose, for example, patients are welcome to make their payments via debit card, credit card, and even FSA and HSA accounts!).