If you have suffered a sports-related or other injury or had surgery that requires rehabilitative care, you may be prescribed a course of physical therapy. This is an outpatient procedure and can last between 30 minutes and an hour, two to three times a week. Your prescribed course could be even more intensive.
Your health insurance will generally cover these costs and even subsidized health plans may do so. But what do you do when you need physical therapy and are uninsured or if your plan only covers a set number of treatments? How much will it cost you?
The cost of physical therapy without insurance is influenced by several factors. We examine what those factors are and how to reduce your out-of-pocket costs in this article.
What Does Physical Therapy Cost Without Insurance?
Physical therapy can be quite expensive, particularly if you are uninsured. Even if you do have health insurance, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to worry about out-of-pocket costs.
Many health insurance plans, even top-tier private plans, only cover a limited number of physical therapy sessions. And physical therapy often necessitates numerous sessions over an extended period. This is especially common in people who need therapy after a stroke or serious injury like a car accident.
Whatever the reason that you don’t have coverage, the problem is the same. Physical therapy that is not covered by insurance is expensive. But how much does it cost?
The initial consultation with the physical therapist before treatment may take much longer, and cost far more, than the treatment sessions that follow. There’s a good reason for this. It is at this first visit that the physical therapist will assess your condition and prescribe a suitable regimen.
Depending on whether or not a first session is combined with your initial consultation or not, you could pay up to $225. This is an expense that most uninsured people would struggle with.
Why Is This So Expensive?
To ascertain the level of therapy you need, the therapist will conduct certain physical tests like asking you to climb a few stairs or walk a few steps and other similar activities. They may also need to carry out more detailed tests, but these are the most common.
They do this to determine your range of motion, balance, muscular strength, and overall physical ability. The skill, expertise, and experience of your therapist are called upon here and the tests they put you through at this stage may take a fair amount of time. Therefore, the first consultation or evaluation can be quite expensive.
Subsequent Physical Therapy Sessions
Your follow-up sessions will usually be cheaper than the initial consultation, but far more costly in the long term. This is due to the volume, i.e. the total number of sessions that you’ll need.
You’ll pay up to $150 per in-office physical therapy session without insurance.
The cost you pay per session depends on your individual needs. The type of therapy you need will affect this cost. For example, the use of a pool in addition to using a gym would be more expensive than if you just needed the gym.
If you need to have your physical therapy treatments at home, this would also increase the cost of your sessions. This is because your therapist will include their travel expenses and costs to cover the time spent traveling, too.
Supplementary At-Home Therapy Costs
A common practice in physical therapy is to advise the patient to continue with physical exercises at home, in addition to the in-office treatments. This is not the same as the at-home therapy discussed above. It is a supplementary regimen.
This supplementary therapy incurs further costs, as you may need certain types of equipment to perform these exercises at home.
What Are The Potential Costs?
Medical-grade exercise equipment that is deemed suitable for physical therapy can be far more expensive than equipment at your favorite discounted sports goods stores! Your costs will depend on which pieces of equipment you need, and you may need more than one type.
Special physiotherapy exercise balls can cost up to $75 and resistance bands and ankle weights cost up to $25. The price of a light dumbbell weight set for physical therapy is generally around $30 to $40 or even more.
Types Of Physical Therapy
What exactly is physical therapy, and are there different types?
Physical therapy is a regimen of exercises designed to improve mobility, increase or regain strength after a neurological ailment, and even manage postoperative pain.
There are many different types of physical therapy and the type you are prescribed depends on what you need it for.
The most commonly prescribed types of physical therapy are:
- Pediatric physical therapy for children with growth problems.
- Geriatric therapy to help elderly patients regain balance, muscle strength, and range of motion.
- General orthopedic physical therapy for post-operative patients or those who have injured themselves.
- Stretches, exercises, and hydrotherapy for sports injuries like knee or shoulder muscle strains and tears.
- Cardiovascular physical therapy for patients with heart conditions.
- Pulmonary physical therapy for people with circulatory issues.
- Physiotherapy to regain muscle function after a stroke.
- Treatments for muscle weakness, pain, joint stiffness, and difficulty walking after cancer.
7 Tips To Help You Save Money On Your Physical Therapy
Physical therapy treatments are generally non-negotiable. You can’t just opt out of having it to save money. When you’ve been prescribed physical therapy, you definitely need it. That being said, doctors can easily prescribe multiple physical therapy sessions per week.
Without insurance, the costs will quickly mount and you’ll find yourself unable to pay. So, don’t let your insurance status affect your recovery. Rather use these tips to save money on your physical therapy expenses.
Ask For A Cash Deal
Some medical practitioners, including physical therapists, who are in private practice may consider a reduced fee for cash payments. You would have to discuss this with the physical therapist before the time.
Note that physical therapists at state-run facilities will not be able to make this concession.
Reduced Fee For Upfront Payment
This is another option for saving some money but is only really possible at privately operating physical therapists’ offices. Ask about a reduction in fees in exchange for a lump sum payment upfront. Physical therapy usually requires several sessions and can become a costly scenario for uninsured people otherwise.
Flexible Savings Account
A flexible savings account (FSA) is one where you can save money that is used for out-of-pocket healthcare (or dependent) costs. This can also be used to pay for physical therapy. How does this save you money? You don’t pay taxes on money held in an FSA.
Health Savings Account
Like the FSA, a health savings account (HSA) is also a tax-advantaged savings account. Its purpose is to help individuals with high-deductible health plans or who have exceeded their coverage limits save for medical expenses. Prescribed physical therapy will usually qualify for this help.
Health Reimbursement Account
A health reimbursement account (HRAs) is usually part of an employer-funded health plan and covers costs like prescription medications and copayments for medical treatments. Check with your employer if you’re offered this type of coverage, and if your physical therapy is covered.
Physical therapists in private practice may be open to the idea of a payment plan for uninsured clients. While this is not guaranteed, it’s certainly worth exploring. Explain your situation, and agree on a payment schedule that’s affordable for you and fair to them.
Spread Out Your Treatment Schedule
If all else fails, there’s always the option to slightly reduce the number of sessions or to spread them out over a longer period. This will reduce your overall expenditure, or at least will give you more time to pay for your therapy.
Is Virtual Physical Therapy An Option?
Virtual physical therapy is a type of telehealth service, where treatment is provided at a distance through video call technology. This is an option for more minor physical therapy, and even then, is only appropriate for follow-up sessions.
It may cost less than half of traditional in-person physical therapy but is not suitable for all types of treatment or all patients. The physical therapist will have to use their discretion as to whether our therapy can be performed in a virtual setting.
An in-person consultation and first few sessions in-office, followed by virtual therapy at home, is more likely. However, take your virtual communications tool expenses and the costs of exercise equipment for home use into account. This won’t save much money unless your therapy requires many sessions.
Physical therapy without insurance is not affordable for most people. While it’s possible to reduce costs in some ways, it’s still an expense that you may struggle to meet.
The ultimate solution is to enroll for health insurance, to help you pay these medical expenses. Your income and even your employment status aren’t necessarily barriers to good healthcare and coverage. Call us today for help getting health insurance coverage that meets your needs.