Thanks to Direct Access legislation, physical therapy patients can now get evaluations and treatments directly from a licensed physical therapist (PT) without first obtaining a doctor's prescription or referral. It essentially 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 Virginia, the benefits, and how to easily obtain PT care in the state.
Virginia's Direct Access Laws for Physical Therapy
Virginia allows direct patient access to a physical therapist with some provisions. A physical therapist can treat direct access patients when:
- The therapist has a certificate of authorization under Virginia Code Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations § 54.1-3482.
- Treatment does not extend beyond 60 consecutive business days from the date of initial evaluation and:
- The patient attests they are not currently being seen by a physician, chiropractor, or other providers for the same problem that PT is addressing.
- The patient must provide written consent allowing the therapist to release all records and protected health information (PHI) to the aforementioned healthcare provider.
- The physical therapist must give the aforementioned healthcare provider a copy of their initial evaluation and the patient's history within 14 days of initial treatment.
- The PT must contact the aforementioned healthcare provider at the end of 60 days to authorize additional therapy services until the patient can be seen by their provider.
- After discharging a patient, a physical therapist shall not perform an initial evaluation of a patient without a referral if the physical therapist has performed an initial evaluation of the patient for the same condition within the immediately preceding 60 days.
Note: PTs can provide physical therapy services via direct access with no restrictions under the following circumstances:
To student-athletes in a school setting
For workplace ergonomics
To special education students
For wellness, fitness, and health screenings
For preventive services
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 Virginia
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.