When deciding how to go about seeking treatment for an injury, one has many factors to consider including the following:
- What type of health practitioner should I seek help from?
- Once I decide which type of health practitioner I want to see (physical therapist, chiropractor, etc.), how do I discern which specific practice is the best fit for me?
- How much money will this cost me?
- How much of a time commitment will the rehab process be?
While all of these are very important questions that need to be addressed, many people tend to solely focus in on the amount of money they will have to spend to receive treatment. Many people will simply default to the cheapest option available assuming that they will receive the highest quality care from whichever practitioner they receive. However, this is not true by any means. When you buy consumer products, you typically tend to pay more money for a higher quality product. The same is often true for healthcare, specifically referring to physical therapy in this case. And what better reason is there to spend more money for a higher quality product than when it comes to your own health.
This brings me to the concept of cash physical therapy and why I believe it to be in the best interest of most people. As the name implies, cash physical therapy practices do not take insurance. At initial inspection, this seems like a hindrance to the consumer in order to benefit the physical therapist. However, it is exactly the opposite. You see, reimbursement from insurance companies for physical therapy is currently at a level where most physical therapists have to see multiple patients at the same time in order to bring in the revenue they need to be successful. However, this leads to a lower quality of care via decreased one on one time during physical therapy sessions. You can directly interact with your physical therapist for as little as 15-20 minutes of an hour long sessions due to how busy they are with other patients. Furthermore, patients are often passed around between physical therapists and physical therapist assistants from visit to visit which results in a lack of continuity in your interventions. All of these problems result in decreased efficiency and quality of care which can potentially lead to decreased outcomes and prolonged time to reach your goals.
A cash based practice costs more money per visit which allows for higher quality care via every visit being entirely 1 on 1. This allows the physical therapist to see every rep of every set the patient performs. More importantly, it allows the physical therapist to talk to the patient throughout the sessions discussing their progress and every aspect of their current plan of care (stress levels outside of physical therapy, patient goals, home exercise programs, patient fears/beliefs, etc.)
Also, for many people, cash based clinics are not much more expensive than other options. Many people have co-pays even if a practice accepts their insurance. Furthermore, lack of 1 on 1 time within normal clinics among other factors also leads to most clinics seeing a patient 2-3x per week, whereas cash practitioners often only see their patients once a week since the increased 1 on 1 time per session allows the physical therapist to more effectively direct the patient in their home exercise program and actions outside of the clinic. As an example, let’s say that a patient has a 30 dollar co-pay for each visit. An outpatient clinic that takes insurance wants to see the patient 3x/week. That adds up to $90/week for treatment which often lacks 1 on 1 time and offers a lower, less individualized quality of care. A cash physical therapist charging $100/visit will see you once a week and offer only 1 on 1 care that is totally individualized towards your goals. And in this setting, the physical therapist truly knows your goals because they are with you during the entirety of your appointment. At the end of the day, this patient would be paying $10 dollars a week more for a much higher quality of care.
Don’t always jump at the cheapest option when it comes to your health. Invest in a higher quality of care in order to reach your goals more efficiently and effectively. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.