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Physical Therapy - high costs and limited care

On the way home from work today I heard an interesting story on NPR (http://www.npr.org/2011/06/06/135385837/high-costs-limited-care-a-pain-for-therapy-patients?ps=cprs) about costs for physical therapy (PT) increasing while care seems to be diminishing. 

 

It seems that Medicare is planning on reducing PT reimbursements by another 5% and if there are any similarities between PT and physician reimbursements, one can expect other insurance companies to follow suit and reduce payments. And while no patient wants to hear that running a PT clinic (or doctor office for that matter) is a business, it in fact is a business. There are monthly overhead costs that are going up every year, while reimbursements continue to go down. Consider how many PT clinics have gone out of business - not because they didn't do a good job, but because their costs exceeded their income - a model that does not work.

 

Unfortunately this has led to more and more double booking, over-booking, and shorter PT visits, while patients seem to be responsible for more money out of pocket. Not fair, but that seems to be the trend. In fact, much like physicians, more and more therapists are no longer contracting with insurance companies, mostly so they can charge what they feel is appropriate for their time and skill, give patients appropriate one on one time, and help them. Unfortunately this means even more money out of pocket for patients. 

 

I fear this trend is not going anywhere anytime soon...and I fear it will soon include the commercial carriers, not just Medicare. Amazing that the CEO's of the insurance companies continue to earn a lofty salary and large bonuses, premiums for you and I keep going up, out of pocket costs are going up, but care and one on one time keeps going down....sad state of our current health care system.

 

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