Blue Sky Therapy Blog

Do I need a Doctor's Referral to see a Physical Therapist?

by Blue Sky Therapy

The short answer is...NO! All 50 states allow for some form of “Direct Access” physical therapy.


What is Direct Access?

This means that a patient can see a physical therapist without needing to obtain a referral from a physician first.


Why Direct Access Physical Therapy?

  • Saves money - Direct Access eliminates the need for the initial physician visit to obtain a referral. This could also reduce unnecessary tests and medications during that initial physician visit.
  • Saves time - Patients can call physical therapy clinics directly to see up appointments without having to wait for the referral to come through and get scheduled.
  • Faster healing time - The quicker a patient can start treatment, the quicker they can reach discharge.


What States Offer Direct Access?

  • All 50 states, DC and the US Virgin Island all offer some form of direct access.
  • As outlined by the APTA, there are several levels of access depending on which state a patient is in:
    • Limited Patient Access: Access to evaluation, fitness and wellness, and limited treatment only to certain patient populations or under certain circumstances (e.g., treatment restricted to patients with a previous medical diagnosis or subject of a previous physician referral).
      • Patient Access with Provisions: Access to evaluation and treatment with some provisions such as a time or visit limit, or referral requirement for a specific treatment intervention such as needle EMG or spinal manipulation.
      • Unrestricted Patient Access: No restrictions or limitations whatsoever for treatment absent a referral.


Will My Insurance Cover Direct Access?

Most insurance companies will pay for physical therapy without a referral but there are some who do require one. Blue Sky’s billing department is available to verify benefits prior to a patient’s appointment to determine whether a referral will still be required.


Are you ready to schedule a direct access appointment? Give one of Blue Sky’s outpatient clinics a call today.

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Physical Therapy Outpatient Direct Access Insurance Referral

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