Direct access to physical therapy is available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, meaning you don't need to go to the doctor first when looking for physical therapy. In many states, physical therapists have what is known as “direct access”, meaning that patients can legally care for them directly, without the need for a referral. However, some insurance companies require a referral in order to pay. So, if you don't want to risk keeping the bill, it's best to call your insurance company and ask them.
Many “direct access” states allow patients to see a physical therapist without the need for a referral from their doctor. If your state is included, be sure to contact your insurance company to see if they cover physical therapy. You can see a physical therapist for evaluation and treatment without the need for a medical referral. You always have the right to do physical therapy or any other treatment before undergoing other, more invasive procedures. If you live in a state with direct access, you can go to physical therapy yourself and not have to go to the doctor.
If a patient could benefit from physical therapy, this would delay their treatment, care and recovery from their medical problems. The education and training a physical therapist receives provides full support for the professional to practice without the need for referral. In addition to this, physical therapists must also undergo a very comprehensive clinical training program. One of Alabama's leading insurance providers, Blue Cross Blue Shield, has contracts that allow a physical therapist to perform an initial evaluation without the need for a referral, but will not pay for additional treatments until your doctor approves your plan of care. It can be confusing to decide how to get a referral for a physical therapist and to determine if your insurance will cover your care.
If a physical therapist discovers that your symptoms, signs, or health condition are outside the scope of their care, they will immediately refer you to a medical professional before continuing your treatment. By providing direct-access physical therapy and eliminating the need for the patient to obtain a referral, a greater level of accessibility is allowed when it comes to medical care. In addition, they do not directly address the individual needs of patients who need physical therapy, unless current restrictions prevent or interrupt patient care. If you live in a state that doesn't offer direct and full access, you'll need a referral if you need your insurance to cover the expenses; however, this is much better than suffering the effects of prescription drugs or having unnecessary surgery. In today's world where we are facing an opioid crisis, physical therapy is considered the safest approach to managing pain due to some states not recognizing the educational training of those who work in physical therapy. If you need a referral for physical therapy, you should talk to the medical provider (doctor, physician assistant, or specialist nurse) who treated you and talked about this problem.
The front desk staff at any clinic you choose can guide you through the process and ensure you have a current referral for your treatment or get one if needed.