People seek physical therapy to treat myriad health complaints. It can help patients recover from surgery and injuries, increase flexibility and mobility, and improve strength, endurance and balance. Physical therapy helps relieve symptoms of chronic health problems, restores physical functions such as walking, and mitigates the pain of arthritis. Physical therapy may target certain muscle groups or particular joints, and some therapists specialize in sports medicine, therapy for the elderly or pediatrics. Some physical therapists accept insurance plans, while others require patients to pay out of pocket. The primary factors that affect the cost of physical therapy are insurance coverage and the number of times the patient needs to see the therapist.
Choosing a physical therapist
Many physical therapists are board-certified in specific areas such as orthopedics, sports, neurology, and so on. Patients should find a therapist who can provide care for their specific health problem, such as back or neck pain. Most people can get a referral from their doctor, especially if their insurance provider requires it. Insurance companies generally will cover a certain number of sessions, so it’s a good idea to know how many that is when beginning work with a physical therapist. Some personal trainers also offer physical therapy in the form of mobility classes or individual therapy sessions. Some trainers may even make home visits.
Each insurance company is different, but many offer some coverage for physical therapy; coverage amounts vary depending on the choice of in-network versus out-of-network providers. And some insurance coverage only kicks in once the plan deductible is met. Physical therapy co-pays can be $20 to $50 or more, depending on the insurance plan. For instance, Cigna’s Open Access Plan includes physical therapy in the short-term rehabilitation category, along with hearing, speech, chiropractic and other therapies. This plan allows for 36 sessions a year and pays 80 percent of each visit’s fee after a $20 co-pay.
Paying for physical therapy without insurance
Patients don’t need to have physical therapy coverage to see a provider, but it will be far more expensive without insurance. Depending on the type of therapy and the length of the session, paying out-of-pocket can range from $50 to $350 dollars per session. The cost of treatment can also vary depending on the length of treatment—a few sessions to treat a minor sports injury may cost a few hundred dollars, while rehab from major surgery can cost thousands of dollars.
Working with a personal trainer, such as John J. Masucci, Ms., Ed., C.S.C.S. of Peak Performance in Fort Myers, Florida, to increase strength and mobility can be a more affordable option for physical therapy. Masucci charges $30 an hour to work with children and up to $65 an hour to work with adults who have more complex needs.
Some patients may need to purchase medical supplies, such as hot or cold packs, exercise balls, balance boards and other equipment to get the most out of their physical therapy. Hot and cold packs cost $5–$25, an exercise ball costs about $20 and a balance board costs $25–$100.
Patients who pay providers directly with cash, leaving out the insurance company, may be able to negotiate lower fees.