Do I Have Direct Access To A PT In My State?

If you have persistent pain or mobility limitations from an injury, you may be able to benefit from scheduling an appointment with the best physical therapist Falls Church, VA has–that’s us at AmeriWell Clinics. Direct access means that you can see a physical therapist without having to see a doctor first. However, whether you have direct access depends on the state or jurisdiction where you live. Some states offer direct access but only for a limited time or on a conditional basis. Even if the laws of the state allow direct access, your insurance may not cover it unless you get a referral from your doctor.

No Direct Access

There are nine states that do not allow you to see a physical therapist unless you get a referral. Before you can see a physical therapist in these states, you must first see a doctor, who can refer you to a physical therapy clinic:

  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • Wyoming

Fortunately, we have more lax laws so that you may visit us on your own accord. Whenever you feel pain, restricted movements, or stiffness, you should schedule an appointment with a skilled physical therapist, such as one at AmeriWell Clinics

Time-Limited Direct Access

Some states allow you direct access to a physical therapist but only for a limited amount of time. Once the time limit expires, you may have to see a doctor for a referral. The time limit varies by jurisdiction. The longest span is 90 days in Minnesota and Rhode Island, while the shortest is 14 days in Virginia. Most are around three weeks to a month. Some have limits on the number of treatments as well as the treatment time. For example, direct access in New York state lasts for 30 days or 10 visits, whichever comes first, while California extends direct access for 45 days or 12 visits.

Improvement-Limited Direct Access

In states with improvement-limited direct access, you can see a physical therapist without a referral as long as your condition continues to improve. However, if you do not see any initial improvement, you must then see a doctor for a referral. The amount of time you have to show improvement varies by state. For example, in Kansas, it is 15 days or 10 visits, whichever comes first, while in Ohio, you have 30 days to improve.

Direct Access

Nearly half of all states provide direct access without limits to everyone. However, some only provide direct access to certain patients. For example, Wisconsin allows people with athletic injuries unlimited direct access, but everyone else needs a referral. Some treatments may not be available without a referral in certain states.

When you contact our AmeriWell office, we can explain how the rules apply to you and whether you need a referral.