Across the country, the use of physical therapy as an alternative to more invasive – and potentially costly – medical procedures is increasing for a number of reasons. Perhaps chief among them is that almost all states now allow for direct access to PT care. But as utilization of these health care services grows significantly, so too does the need for those working in the field to have the right amount of insurance.
Texas, one of the few remaining holdout states where consumers do not have direct access to physical therapy (and instead have to get a referral from a primary care physician before seeking out such treatment), is now considering a bill to do away with that requirement, according to a report from Physical Therapy Products. Many on all sides of this equation in the health care industry have long extolled the virtues of such a change.
For doctors, it frees up time that can be better spent on people with more pressing medical needs. For therapists, it helps get more people through the door to keep practices going strong. And for patients, it can potentially save them a lot of money and physical pain by avoiding costly procedures, sometimes including surgery.
An insurance requirement
However, as part of the bill now being considered in the Texas state legislature, consumers would be able to tap that direct access only if the therapist they intend to visit can meet certain requirements, the report said. That includes at least one year of experience and proof of advanced training (such as a degree in the field), as well as proof that they have liability insurance significant enough to cover any claims that might arise if something goes wrong in the practice.
This is, however, a fairly standard requirement in the field, and most therapists have such coverage already. But by making that need for coverage part of the law, there won’t be any room for interpretation, and that added clarity can be a boon to all involved.
In addition to these requirements, the law would also state that consumers can only visit a therapist a maximum of 20 times, or within 45 days, before they need to go see a primary care physician to obtain a referral, the report said. At that point, though, a second opinion might actually be a good idea. Moreover, PT professionals will not be able to practice any treatments that fall outside of the field in which they have their training to begin with.
Physical therapists who want to make sure they’re both adequately keeping up with state law, and protected by liability insurance may want to shop around for coverage. As with any other type of small business insurance, striking the right balance between cost and need can potentially save these health care professionals thousands of dollars per year while still ensuring that they’re not going to run into bigger problems down the road.