More and more physical therapy and healthcare practices are transitioning to a cash pay or concierge business model. The reason for this is it allows the clinician to provide better care to their patients while saving the patient time and money. However there is some misunderstanding on how this business model works, so I thought it would be appropriate to address some questions I have gotten.
Why Cash Pay Physical Therapy
If you have been to a traditional physical therapy clinic you were probably asked to come in 2-3 times per week for a certain length of time depending on the nature of your injury and what your insurance company allows. Each of your appointments were probably 30 minutes long, and your therapist, through no fault of their own, probably had to spread their time and attention among more than one patient during your appointment time. So in reality you probably only spent 20 minutes one-on-one with your therapist during that 30 minute appointment. The rest of the time you may have been with an aid or performing some unsupervised activity. Now this isn’t the case for all clinics, but it is the growing trend for insurance based clinics to operate this way.
Cash Pay Physical Therapy Vs. Traditional Physical Therapy
Let’s take a look at the costs of an insurance based clinic vs the cost of going to a cash or concierge style clinic. An average physical therapy co-pay is $40.00. So if a patient were going to an insurance based clinic 3 times per week they would be spending $120.00 per week or about 60 minutes of their therapist’s attention ($40.00 per visit x 3 visits per week). Now over the course of a 4 week treatment period they likely spent $480.00 ($120.00 per week x 4 weeks) in co-pays alone, this doesn’t even factor in their deductible (which could double their cost). Add to that, drive time to and from the clinic as well as time missed from school/work coming to the clinic 3 times per week, they are spending quite a bit of money only to receive part of their therapist’s attention. At a cash based or concierge clinic like Prue Physical Therapy & Sports Performance we are able to spend more time with the patient (60 minutes per visit) since we only see one patient at a time, therefore getting faster results in fewer visits. This same patient at Prue Physical Therapy & Sports Performance would spend $500.00 ($125.00 x 4 visits) over the course of a 4 week treatment program. At the end of the program there is no surprise bill that comes 3 months later to cover a deductible, instead that patient may actually get reimbursement directly from their insurance company (reimbursements vary based off each patient’s personal policy).
Cash Pay Physical Therapy Savings
So for essentially the same upfront/out of pocket cost of going to an insurance based physical therapy clinic, you can choose a cash based/concierge clinic where you will: receive one-on-one care for an entire visit, receive better outcomes, spend less time driving to and from a clinic, and have no surprise bills. Now please keep in mind these numbers can vary depending on your co-pay and deductible, but this example helps illustrate how using a cash based/concierge clinic can actually save you time and money. So next time you are looking for a physical therapist consider using a clinic that focuses on quality of care vs the quantity of patients they see.
About the author:
Dr. Kevin Prue PT, DPT, CSCS is a graduate of Duke University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. He is the president and director of Prue Physical Therapy & Sports Performance (www.pruept.com
) located in Cary NC. He specializes sports and orthopedic physical therapy, sports performance training and injury prevention for youth and recreational athletes.