Annemarie Alf, PT, DPT, CSCS
Owner/ Founder/ Doctor of Physical Therapy Olympus Movement Performance
I wrote/ shared a blog on this topic about 4 years ago.
The question has come up time and time again recently – why don’t you accept my ‘health’ insurance?
This is WHY?
Have you ever been to ‘traditional’ Physical Therapy and felt like you’re just a number, and NOT a person OR like it didn't really work, this post is for you.
There IS a better way!
I would say that the majority of new clients that we’ve seen, tried the typical PT office and have not gotten any or minimal results.
We want to educate you as much as possible on why you should consider paying out of pocket next time you need Physical Therapy.
Like most Physical Therapists, I began my career working in a traditional clinic and quickly realized that healthcare in this country is very broken. Therapists are tied down by the rigid rules of insurance companies, poor reimbursements, and unable to use their knowledge and skills they have to truly help every patient that comes through the door the way they want to.
WHAT IS CASH BASED PT?
This means that your physical therapists do not accept insurance (in- network) and they work solely on a private pay basis.
And guess what-- it's not as expensive as you think, and it's important that you know why it's worth every penny!
Yes, you are paying out of pocket, but you are getting a high quality, personalized one- one experience in return.
In many cases cash-based PT can and does cost even less that using your insurance.
Most of us usually don't think twice about going out to buy nice workout clothes, healthy food, or other self- care treatments, BUT when it comes to paying out of pocket for better healthcare, we suddenly question it.
Remember-- your health is worth it and is the best investment you can make.
It's time to change the conversation around cash-based PT, because the reality is that it is a very affordable and effective way to get you back to doing all the things
So here are my top 10 reasons why cash based Physical Therapy might be for you:
1. More one-on-one time with your therapist.
This is 100%, without a doubt, the most important piece to me (and most of my patients as well)! When you are not worried about billing insurance companies and being reimbursed for your time, you suddenly have much more of it to give to your patients. There are typically no aides or trainers involved in your session, it is all time spent with your Doctor of Physical Therapy. Most DPT's went into this business because they love working with and helping people. This therapy approach really allows us to get back to the reason we became DPT's in the first place- and you reap the benefits!
2. More personalized attention.
When you are working one-on-one with your Doctor of Physical Therapy, I can assure you the care you are getting is far more personalized than it would be otherwise. Your therapist won't be running back and forth between patients, the focus is 100% on you. This allows us to really assess each of your movements and adjust based on what is happening during each exercise. The result is a completely individualized treatment plan to correct your specific muscle imbalances and help you get better faster!
3. Builds a strong patient-provider relationship.
Now, I know this one may sound a bit redundant but it sure is important. When you are being treated in a cash-based PT setting you build a strong relationship with your therapist. You are probably going to be spending a lot of quality time together and end up feeling more like friends in the end. Trusting your therapist has a huge impact on your healing and having the opportunity to get to know each other one-on-one really allows for a deeper sense of trust to develop. All of our patients have my cell phone number and know I am always "on call" and they reach out whenever they need me. Most cash-based PT's I know do exactly the same for their clients/ athletes too .
4. Yes, It may actually save you money in the long run.
Quality over quantity is an important concept here. More one-on-one time with your DPT means we don't need to see you as often. On average, we only see our patients 1x/wk but it is for a full hour. Sometimes we need 4 visits, sometimes its more. Either way, it gives you plenty of time between sessions to work on your home/ gym program and start to see some results. More importantly, it empowers you to put in the work which = getting better, FASTER. With a less frequent PT schedule, this often works out to be much less than using your insurance.
Take this scenario for instance: a patient with a high copay of $60 per visit who needs to go to PT 2-3x/wk for 8 weeks will spend close to $1000 over the course of their care. During their visits, they are likely only spending ~20 minutes of actual one-on-one time with their DPT. That's a lot of money and time for little reward.
If that patient instead chooses a cash-based PT practice that charges $150/visit and needs only 6 visits, you are looking at $900. The math is a no-brainer!!
5. More freedom to address multiple issues at the same time.
While it is extremely unfair, insurance companies strongly dictate if you get better or not based on what they will approve. Did you know that under insurance DPT's can only bill for treating one body part at a time? That means that you would need 2 separate evals and visits each week to be able to bill your insurance for your knee and your shoulder problem. In some cases, your DPT may be able to justify it. They just better be prepared for a lot of extra paperwork, which really means less time for personalized patient care. Crazy right!? In the case of cash-based PT-- not an issue! We can treat whatever issues you are having without you needing to worry about it being denied by your insurance. Again, the outcome is you getting better faster because you are getting the care your DPT knows you need.
6. More freedom to explore the root cause of the problem.
With longer one-on-one appointments and not worrying about insurance approvals, your DPT can perform a thorough assessment of strengths, weaknesses, imbalances and how you move. This means we have a full picture of what is going on. It may be your hip that is pinching, but WHY!? Maybe you don't have a strong core or your upper back mobility is limited. So we work on all of these areas and make sure to address the reason it happened in the first place. This results in you living pain free and preventing issues from returning in the future. No trying to explain this to an insurance company just to get denied.
7. Many insurance companies reimburse for out-of-network PT.
Depending on your out-of-network benefits, your insurance company may actually reimburse you for your visits! Just make sure you get a superbill from your DPT that you can submit to your insurance company.
At Olympus Movement, we always provide my patients with a superbill on request.
In addition, you also always have the option of using your HSA/ FSA cards as well.
8. More flexible scheduling means getting more of your time back.
It is no secret that time is our most precious commodity, and we can’t get it back. Only needing to see your DPT once a week gives you more time back to do whatever you love!
At Olympus Movement, we try to give you back even more of your time by getting you back to the field, gym, or activities that you love.
The last 2 are my favorite...
9. Empowering you to help heal yourself.
A good Doctor of Physical Therapy will not "heal you" they will teach you to help heal yourself. Physical Therapists do not want you to use us as a crutch, we want you to take your health and wellness into your own hands. You have the power to help heal yourself, we just give you the guidance you need to get there. By choosing cash based PT, you have already taken a huge step towards empowering yourself, because you have made the commitment to invest in your health. The truth is, patients who pay out of pocket are far more committed to their treatment plan because they have paid their hard earned money for it.
10. Your health is worth any amount and is the BEST investment you could ever make.
It is simple, you only get one body and one chance-- take care of it!!
All of this really comes back to one main point.
Cash based Physical Therapy has the ability to provide you with the highest quality of care. Aren't we all looking for a better experience with health care these days? I can promise you that high quality, affordable care still exists and your insurance company does not have to be the barrier.
For me, 10 years later, I could not be happier with the choice that I made to leave traditional clinic life behind. As with most DPT's who switch to a cash based model, my intentions have always been to put our patients first and give them the care they deserve. I can now say with certainty that we are able to provide them with a better patient experience than they would get anywhere else.
If you are considering cash based Physical Therapy for yourself, start with a simple Google search for DPT's who may provide this in your area. I highly suggest taking advantage of a phone or in-person consultation so you can get a better feel for if this is the right way to go. In the end, its all about fulfilling your individual needs. Stay informed, do your homework and know that there are still so many health care providers out there who truly care about helping you live your best life!
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Author: Annemarie Alf
"We Specialize In Optimizing Teen And Active Adult Lives In North County San Diego By Addressing The WHOLE Person. We offer A Holistic, Integrative Approach To Performance And Wellness That Will Assess And Address The Root Causes That Lead To Pain, Hormonal Imbalances, Fatigue, Weight Gain And/ Or Decreased Performance."