Many first-time physical therapy patients are unsure about the process to see a physical therapist. One of the most common questions is: Can they make the appointment on their own or do they need a referral from their primary care doctor? Unfortunately, the answer depends on where you live and your insurance provider. Here are some guidelines to consider.
Depends on the State
Whether you can make an appointment directly with your physical therapist or have to work through a referral at your primary care doctor largely depends on where you live. For instance, the state of New York allows direct access, where you can contact the physical therapist of your choosing and make an appointment without first consulting with your physician. However, not all states allow direct access. If you are unsure about whether your state has direct access, you can talk about it with a physical therapist of your choosing or your primary care doctor.
Direct Access Has Limits
Even states with direct access have limits. Some states limit the number of visits to a set amount or during a certain number of days. For instance, you can schedule up to 10 visits over 30 days directly with a physical therapist without getting your doctor’s referral. In many cases, it is still worth setting up an appointment with your primary care physician or specialist. Some conditions cannot be treated in such a limited amount of time. Having a referral can change these limits.
Check Insurance Coverage
Medical insurance plays an important part in your physical therapy options. The insurance plan may require a visit to your primary care doctor, even if the state you live in doesn’t legally require it. Checking your insurance coverage can be an easy way to see if you need to get prior authorization for the insurance company to cover the therapy. Even if the health insurance company doesn’t cover treatment, many patients work with physical therapists who they pay directly.
Can Choose Your Own Physical Therapist
No matter which physical therapist your primary care doctor recommends, you are able to choose your own physical therapist for treatment. You can choose to use your doctor’s recommendation or choose one that accepts your health insurance plan. Ultimately, who you work with is up to you. You may just need a referral from a physician first.
Physical therapy provides many long-lasting benefits. If you have chronic pain or suffer from an injury, it is worth the extra effort to see your primary care doctor for a referral. If you need any help throughout the process, your physical therapist can guide you.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are ready to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist for your pain or injury, contact Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.