Can You Move Without Pain or Stiffness? Your insurance plan or Medicare can help. (Gulf Breeze News article, 8/19/10 issue)

by Dr. Karen Cann on August 23, 2010

Did you know that you can get skilled advice on how to improve your mobility that’s covered by your health insurance plan or Medicare? Wouldn’t you be grateful to get professional exercise recommendations and dietary instruction that quickly reduces or eliminates your pain or stiffness? And wouldn’t that treatment be even more valuable if it was affordable and something you could do without having to go to the doctor first?

Physical Therapy can help you move and feel better.

You’re in luck! Florida is one of thirty-eight (38) states in the U.S. that allows consumers to obtain physical therapy treatment without a referral from their primary physician.  This means you can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist whenever you need to.  Don’t worry – your primary care physician won’t be left out either – physical therapists always communicate with your M.D. so the care you receive is based on combined efforts.

Benefits of Physical Therapy for Everyone

So why would you go to a physical therapist? What do they specifically help you with? Physical therapists are now doctorate-level educated, licensed health care professionals.  They diagnose and treat individuals of all ages -from newborns to elders – who have medical problems or health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. This ranges from difficulty with basic bodily movements like bending or walking, to rehabilitation following an illness, injury, or surgery. 

You might just need a few specific exercises.

Physical therapists develop a plan of care, catered specifically to you, using treatment techniques that promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. This may include very specific exercise, ultrasound, muscle stimulation, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), traction, hot and cold packs, massage therapy, joint mobilization, and range-of-motion activities. They also work with you to develop a custom fitness- and wellness-oriented program so that you can lead a healthier and more active lifestyle.

True therapeutic massage can reduce stress and pain.

Many physical therapy offices employ licensed massage therapists as well. This enables the massage therapy portion of your treatment to be done by a trained professional who reviews your particular needs with the doctor and physical therapist, and then applies the appropriate techniques to further improve your health and well-being. This may include Swedish, myofacial, deep tissue, soft tissue, and trigger point therapy massage.  

Proven Value

Why is physical therapy so important that Medicare and most health insurance plans cover it? Physical therapy is a low-cost, high-value alternative to prescription medications with potential drug side effects and expensive surgery. Back pain problems alone account for a disproportionate share of current health care expenditures and workers’ compensation costs, so the likely cost savings of an early physical therapy treatment plan that prevents you from progressing from minor to chronic disability may be huge.

Medicare & Insurance Coverage

The physical therapy services covered by most health insurance plans include evaluation and treatment of your primary problem at hand. If you suffer from more than one issue, several can be treated at the same time. 

Even children and teenagers benefit from physical therapy.

Most insurance plans like Medicare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, United Health Care, and many more have coverage for outpatient rehabilitation services, like physical therapy. The total cost covered per year will vary with each plan, but a physical therapist’s office will generally verify your benefits as a courtesy.

The same services are covered by Medicare as well. Most Medicare beneficiaries have coverage for outpatient rehabilitation services, like physical therapy, up to $1,840 per year. Unfortunately, many Medicare beneficiaries aren’t aware of this benefit or don’t know when they can take advantage of it. Please know that any physical therapist in your community will be happy to talk with you about your condition to determine if Medicare will cover treatment.

And if you don’t have health insurance, please know that physical therapy is very affordable. Costs for an evaluation can be as low as $50 and follow-up visits can be as low as $40 each.

Whether you're recuperating from an injury or surgery, or just need to eliminate pain or stiffness, physical therapy can be the answer to better health.

The Choice Is Yours
The State of Florida has given you the power to get back your quality of movement. Direct access to health care services like physical therapy is your opportunity to save time and money in the long run, thereby expediting your treatment, relief, recovery, and quality of life. If you want to feel better, make the choice to contact your local physical therapist now.

For more information on me and the services I offer, please feel free to visit my clinic’s web site at

I also offer informational health classes on Thursday evenings so that you can meet me and ask questions with no obligation.  Click here to learn more:  Free Health Class.

(850) 916-9304

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