Direct Access for Physical Therapy in Tennessee - How Does It Work?

By Luna
Direct Access for Physical Therapy in Tennessee - How Does It Work?

Thanks to Direct Access legislation, physical therapy patients can get evaluations and treatments directly from a licensed physical therapist (PT) without obtaining a doctor's prescription or referral. It means anyone can visit a physical therapist whenever they want. Having Direct Access to physical therapy offers significant benefits for those who need care, as it saves time and money (since there's no need to see a primary care physician first). In addition, it often results in faster and better recoveries. However, the level of access varies by state and each individual's health insurance coverage. While all states offer some form of direct access to physical therapy, this article reviews the laws for Tennessee, the benefits, and how to easily obtain PT care in the state.

Tennessee's Direct Access Laws for Physical Therapy

Tennessee allows patients direct access to physical therapy under the following provisions:

  • The patient seeks PT for a problem their doctor has already addressed within the last 12 months.
  • With patient consent, the PT informs the patient's doctor of their course of care no later than five business days after the PT evaluation.
  • If the patient doesn't have a primary doctor, then the PT must provide a list of available providers and make the patient aware of the 90-day limitation to treatment. (If the patient's physician has not been notified of the treatment, therapy can only continue for up to 90 days after the first visit.)
  • If the patient isn't making substantial progress within the first 30 days following the patient's initial PT visit, the PT must stop therapy and refer the patient to a licensed physician. If the patient was diagnosed with a recurring condition (neuromuscular or developmental) and is showing symptoms associated with that previously diagnosed condition, this provision does not apply.
  • If, within 90 days, the patient returns to therapy for treatment of the same condition, then the PT must immediately refer the patient to an appropriate healthcare provider.
  • The PT must discontinue therapy if the patient's condition requires services beyond their scope of practice.
  • It's considered unprofessional conduct for a PT to knowingly provide treatment when a patient has reached either the 90-day time limit or the 30-day limit without making substantial progress.

Benefits of Direct Access Physical Therapy

There are several reasons why it's beneficial for patients to have direct access to a PT. One is that they get more control over their care. Physical therapy is the obvious choice for conditions like lower back pain, knee pain, tennis elbow, sciatica, and other PT conditions. Direct access gives patients an option and lets them personally decide on their course of treatment. It's also less costly for patients since they can avoid paying for a doctor's visit (and pricey diagnostic tests) to get a referral. Moreover, patients don't have to wait to get the help they need. They can schedule a visit with a licensed physical therapist immediately, often reducing healing time. But even with direct access to physical therapy, it's understandable that many patients wish to have their physicians included in their course of care. At Luna, our physical therapists are happy to be a part of their patient's medical team and regularly communicate with their client's physicians to keep them aware of progress. 

How to Obtain Physical Therapy in Tennessee

Like many busy Americans, you'd likely prefer the convenience and privacy of in-home physical therapy. Luna is the top-ranking in-home physical therapy service. It provides state-of-the-art, immediate care to patients in need. In addition, Luna's easy-to-use platform makes the process effortless. Schedule an appointment, get matched with a top-notch licensed physical therapist, and receive high-quality care in your home, gym, or office at a time that works best for you.

In-Home Physical Therapy is Covered by Insurance

The cost of getting physical therapy is less expensive than you may think and can be one of the best investments in your health. Plus, it can help you manage or avoid the high cost of chronic health issues. If you opt for the convenience of in-home physical therapy, it's often covered by insurance in the exact same way as a PT clinic. For example, Luna accepts most insurances, including Medicare, Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, Health Net, Humana, Tricare, and UnitedHealthcare—in fact, all PPOs. And Medicare covers most (if not all) of the cost, and commercial insurance patients typically pay just a small co-pay. Use Luna's online insurance coverage tool to see your coverage. 

Today, thanks to direct access, you have two ways to receive PT care: through physician referral or by contacting a physical therapist directly. No matter which method you choose, try Luna's in-home physical therapy. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain -- and you and your physician will love the excellent care you receive.

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