Cash-Based PT vs Insurance-Based PT: Which Is Best for You?

Cash-based physical therapy and insurance-based physical therapy are very different. Worlds apart actually. Beyond Movement PT is a cash-based clinic. We decided to go this route to best serve our clientele.

In the typical PT mill setting, you will have to go 2-3 times per week. This has nothing to do with getting you better. This has to do with the corporation getting more money. These types of clinics actually set productivity standards for how many times each patient is seen by their physical therapist. When I worked at a company like this in the past, they told me I need to schedule all of my patients 3 x/wk and see them for at least 18 visits regardless of their condition. When I asked, “Isn’t it a good thing if I am getting them better faster?” they actually said no. They said the best way is to meet the demands of 18 visits to meet productivity standards.

Ok, so if you are spending 18 visits in PT over 6 weeks, this is your total commitment. If you have already hit your deductible, then maybe you only owe a copay. If you are paying $50 per session (typical), then that will cost you $900. If you haven’t hit your deductible, then that number will more than double. Not only are you spending a good amount of money, you are spending a lot of time. That’s 18 hours in physical therapy. That’s also 18 trips to and from the clinic. With a 20-minute commute each way, you are spending 12 hours driving to and from the clinic for all of those sessions.

Let’s add this up. So far, you have spent $900 and 30 hours of your life. On top of that, if you have not hit your deductible, you will receive an unexpected bill in the mail months later (typically for thousands of dollars).

Working with us in a cash-based PT clinic, we will likely see you for 6 sessions over that 6-week period (frequency may change based on your individual needs). Our cost will be only slightly more than what you paid in the in-network setting for 6 weeks. We offer a 6-session package currently at $1074 which includes a bonus session of dry needling or blood flow restriction training. For the purpose of the discussion, we’ll just consider the 6 sessions however you actually get a free “half session.” Considering the same 20-minute commute each way, you are spending 6 hours in physical therapy and 4 hours driving. That means 10 hours of your life instead of 30 hours. We are transparent regarding the costs of your care and there will be no unexpected costs.

Ok, so far costs are looking similar, but your time commitment is much less with the cash-based model. Here’s the kicker. Let’s talk about quality of care.

In the in-network model, most clinics will see 3-4 patients per hour. When you walk in for your session, your PT is already busy with other clients. You may be fortunate enough to have 20 minutes with your PT, but what happens for the rest of your session? You will have a high school or college-aged person follow you around reading exercises off of a sheet of paper. There is no skill in this. They will often be more confused about the exercises than you are, but the PT is too busy to pay attention. You end up doing the same exercises every single time, wasting time on things you could do on your own. Often times the clinic also has not invested in actual exercise equipment because there is a poor return on investment, so you are stuck with 3# dumbbells and 2# ankle cuff weights.

In our cash-based model, you spend 100% of your session one-on-one with your physical therapist. We are clear with our communication and goals. You will be given a specific program to complete on your own to maintain or improve between sessions, while we effectively use our time together to address the root cause of your symptoms. We typically get people feeling better and moving better much more quickly even with seeing clients once per week. This is because we give customized care to the individual rather than “do these back stretches because your back hurts.”

It’s starting to sound like a no-brainer right? We didn’t even talk about how you can save an average of $1500 by avoiding going through your PCP, then an orthopedic, then X-rays, and MRIs before getting sent to PT. You can come directly to us via direct access.

If you value your time, your health, and quality care, then we are the right fit for you. Don’t waste your time with cookie-cutter treatments. Work with Beyond Movement PT to feel better faster and get back to doing the activities you love.

Corey Hall, PT, DPT

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