Montana health law

What Does Direct Access to Physical Therapy Mean?

By Tiffany Coletta
tiffany@excelptmt.com

Unlike some states where patients require a referral from a physician to be treated by a physical therapist, here in Montana you are entitled to “direct access” which means you are able visit your physical therapist directly whenever you are in pain, no prescription required.  The vast majority of major insurance companies will cover physical therapy the same way, whether or not you have seen a doctor first.  The rest of the country is beginning to follow our lead and the transition to direct access is occurring state by state as both insurance companies and health care providers realize the improved quality of care and reduced costs afforded by its implementation.   

The greatest direct access benefit for patients is the ability to get better faster.  Numerous back pain research articles consistently point to one variable as being the most important in the overall success of a patient’s physical therapy treatment:  How soon the physical therapist was able to begin initiating treatment after the injury.  If the therapist was able to start working with the patient within two weeks of the injury, results were significantly better than those patients who allowed more time to elapse before treatment.   

In an increasingly complex health care system, it is great to know that, here in Montana since 1987, we as physical therapists are able to maximize treatment results for our patients by addressing the problem immediately.

However, we as providers are still at the mercy of an insurance companies own rules despite our Montana state law. Therefore, please always check with your insurance company and their specific physical therapy outpatient benefit rules to ensure maximum reimbursement and coverage for your treatment. Our Patient Service Coordinators are happy to help you through this insurance coordination. Just call either of our offices in Bozeman or Manhattan.

"Megan was very helpful and clear with the expectations and treatments in the recovery process." --Bozeman Patient 

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