New York State law, Chapter 298 of the Laws of 2006, permits physical therapists (with a minimum of three years of clinical experience) to treat patients without a physician referral as of November 23, 2006. This patient right has been termed Direct Access. Direct access to physical therapy is your opportunity to be evaluated and treated by the licensed physical therapist of your choice without needing to see your physician first in order to obtain a prescription.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) discusses Direct Access as follows:
Requiring a physician referral to initiate physical therapy can result in delays in the provision of physical therapists’ services to individuals who would benefit from treatment by a physical therapist. Delays in care result in higher cost, decreased functional outcomes, and frustration to patients seeking physical therapy treatment. Commonly, patients will delay and often avoid visiting their physician altogether. By eliminating the referral mandate, physical therapy services can be initiated in a timely manner.
Notice of Advice:
At the beginning of direct access treatment, the physical therapist is obligated by law to advise the patient in writing of the possibility that the treatment may not be covered by the patient’s health care plan or insurer without a referral from a physician, dentist, podiatrist, or nurse practitioner, and that the treatment may be a covered expense if rendered with a referral.
However, in recent months an increasing number of insurance plans, namely Blue Cross/Blue Shield, have allowed clients to use direct access with appropriate reimbursement for physical therapy services. You should contact your insurance carrier to find out if your policy allows for direct access to physical therapy services.
Given today’s health care environment and the need to control health care expenditures, direct access to physical therapy services is an excellent option. Physical therapists are highly trained health care professionals who can help many people with many different conditions. Legally permitting individuals direct access to a licensed physical therapist was the first necessary step. Now, as more insurance companies properly reimburse for physical therapy services through direct access, you have the opportunity to save time and money, thereby expediting your treatment, relief, and getting you on the road to recovery.
Learn more about the services that we offer at COAST Physical Therapy
Monday: 7:30 AM – 6:30 PM
Tuesday: 8 AM – 6:30 PM
Wednesday: 7:30 AM – 6:30 PM
Thursday: 8 AM – 6:30 PM
Friday: 7:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Tues and Thursday 7:30-5:30