Direct Access Laws Empower Physical Therapy Patients
Posted on January 31 2017
Colorado’s direct access laws allow patients to have “direct access” to physical therapy evaluation and treatment without needing a referral from a physician.
Why Is Direct Access Important?
Today’s patient is a knowledgeable and self-advocating partner in the healing process. Gone are the days where folks believe, carte blanche, that the “doctor always knows best.” Smart consumers research their medical conditions to assure that they fully understand their symptoms and diagnosis. In situations where they don’t understand, today’s patient feels empowered to ask questions and seek a second opinion. Direct access in Colorado gives the patient more control of their care.
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), “Every state, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands allow for evaluation and some form of treatment without physician referral. However, many of those states continue to impose arbitrary restrictions on direct access, or only allow for treatment without referral under very limited circumstances.”
Direct Access to PT in Colorado
As stated previously, Colorado is a Direct Access state. That means that the law of the land supports savvy patients by allowing them to seek evaluation and treatment by a physical therapist without requiring a referral from a physician.
Why Laws Have Changed Regarding Physical Therapy
Physical therapists are highly educated, experienced and quite capable of assessing and treating conditions related to the musculoskeletal system. According to APTA, “physical therapists are educated at the post-baccalaureate level and receive extensive education and clinical training in the examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention of patient/clients with functional limitations, impairments and disabilities. All accredited entry-level physical therapist education programs currently culminate in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.” For more information on this topic, visit the APTA’s FAQ page.
Benefits of Direct Access
A landmark study on the topic of direct access confirmed that patients with direct access benefit from:
- reduced healthcare costs
- increased functional outcomes
- timely and more efficient care
Cash Pay vs. Insurance
Most insurance companies have followed suit by covering the cost of direct access treatment by licensed physical therapists. However, when this is not the case, patients have the option of paying for the service out-of-pocket. Many patients participate in medical savings (flexible spending) plans which reimburse for these types of qualifying healthcare expenses.
At Fit Physical Therapy, we believe that everyone should have access to quality evaluation and treatment. Thanks to Colorado’s direct access laws, we are able to provide service to anyone seeking our care. If you aren’t sure if your insurance carrier covers our services, please contact us and we’ll help you navigate the insurance mystery. We can be reached at 303-409-2133.
Yours for continued direct access,
Dr. Christian Jones, Littleton Peak Clinic
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