Why Pay Cash for PT?
Why would you want to pay cash for physical therapy opposed to using your insurance to cover the costs? The answer is in the value received through patient-centered care.
The healthcare system for rehabilitative services is broken. Reimbursements for services rendered are at an all time low. This forces physical therapy clinics to herd patients in droves in order to increase volume and keep the doors open. Co-pays and deductibles also continue to rise which means patients are paying more for less time with their physical therapist. Inevitably, this limits one on one time with the therapist, leading to a lose-lose situation.
Compare and Contrast
Let’s look at an example. The typical physical therapy plan of care calls for visits as high as 3 times a week for 8 weeks, which is a total of 24 visits. These appointments are usually 30 minutes in length, 10 minutes spent on heat or ice, leaving just 20 minutes with the therapist until you are shipped off to a technician. At roughly $30 per copay, this equates to a total of $720 and doesn’t even include costs that will be billed later to cover the deductible. Insurance companies also tend to dictate which services are provided and billed due to varying reimbursements for modalities vs. therapeutic exercise vs. manual therapy. This makes treatment biased and payments received unpredictable. I could evaluate and treat you for 90 minutes and bill $200 worth of codes to your insurance company, yet possibly receive only $60 after a 3-month waiting period. It is an unfair game I am not willing play.
Compare this with the cash pay model where each patient receives one-on-one care with a doctor of physical therapy for anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. Rates, on average, are around $100 per visit. This maximizes personal attention, leading to faster and more positive outcomes in less time. This model is the higher standard of care because it saves time and is more cost effective. Most patients who pay cash usually see their therapist one time a week or every other week. Think about the time you save driving to and from the clinic, not having to worry about the stress of fighting traffic and re-arranging your schedule every week to fit in therapy. This allows for more time with your family and doing what you love. I average around 4 visits for my patients. At $125 an hour, this adds up to just $500 per plan of care. That is a $220 savings from the standard $720 and everything is paid in full, leaving no hidden costs or bills. If you are worried about reimbursement, most cash based physical therapists, like myself, will provide you with a “super bill” which is an itemized receipt you can submit to your own insurance company. At the very least, the costs incurred will be applied to your out-of-network (OON) benefits.
The individuals that come to see me are willing to pay up front for my physical therapy services because they perceive higher value. Despite what most people think, this type of service does not cater to the wealthy. What are you willing to pay to improve our quality of life or do the things that you love to do?
The Race to the Bottom
I will not become the commodity. Think about why many people pay upwards of $150 – $300 a month on a CrossFit gym membership. The services being provided (personalized coaching, community, and positive performance and aesthetic results) are more valuable than paying $10 a month to train alone in a globo-gym with no instruction on proper movement. Most of these gym memberships are sold by driving the price down in a race to the bottom against other gyms in order to increase volume of members through the doors, creating a commodity. This is not how I practice. I prefer to spend more quality time with my patients seeing 6-8 people a day, rather than going insane trying to deliver sub-par care to 20 clients in a 5-hour window. I believe each and every one of my patients should have “skin in the game.” You are more likely to succeed if you have an investment in your own health and rehabilitation. Part of my practice philosophy involves individualized programming that puts you, the patient, in the driver seat. After all, I alone will not “fix” you. Rather, I will provide you with the inputs and tools necessary to improve your movement patterns and decrease pain.
The Big Picture
I believe physical therapy should be all about, you, the patient. I am here to help you solve your problems and reach your goals while delivering a world-class experience.