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The Math (Cost Savings) of Physical Therapy.

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

In my previous two blogs, I explained how PT can save you time and money. I showed you some research reports that show how physical therapy can have equal or better outcomes than surgery. Now, let’s crunch some numbers.

Many insurance plans in America now have deductibles up to $6,500! That is a lot of money to pay out of pocket. Let’s look at what you can buy with that $6,500.

An MRI can cost $1000 or more. Let’s hypothesize that your deductible makes you pay 50% (I’m using numbers based on what I’ve seen in insurance plans and what patients have told me, but it’s all hypothetical). Your out of pocket cost is about $500 for an MRI. That is just for the test, not any treatment. Supposing your MRI shows that something needs treatment, that is going to add to your cost. In my previous post, it was shown that getting an MRI first costs nearly an extra $4,500. Let’s just use the $500 example for your portion of the cost of your MRI. That is probably equal to the cost of 3-7 physical therapy visits, depending on your insurance plan and your physical therapy center. Let’s hypothesize you had the MRI first and it showed something was structurally wrong, the doctor is likely going to send you to physical therapy anyway, so now your cost is at least $1000 out of pocket for the MRI plus 3-7 PT visits.

Maybe the MRI shows something structurally wrong and the doctor recommends surgery. The patient’s out of pocket costs for surgery will likely be at least $3000. Then the doctor may still recommend physical therapy after surgery, depending on what type of surgery you had. So now you are looking at least $5000 out of pocket cost for an MRI, surgery and then physical therapy after surgery.

These costs only account for what an average person in the United States would pay for these services. Again, these are just generic examples of numbers, however this is not accounting for time off work for appointments or surgery. Most people who have surgery take at least a few weeks off work. Depending on your job and type of surgery, you could be missing up to a few months of work while you recover, especially for rotator cuff repair surgery. I’ve had patients who have office jobs that had to take months off work while they recovered from rotator cuff surgery, so don’t think that you can return to work soon after surgery just because you have a sedentary office job. That may not be the case.

Referring to my previous post again, it was shown that for knee arthritis, meniscus tears, rotator cuff tears and degenerative disc disease, surgery did not necessarily have better outcomes than physical therapy alone. So, save yourself some time and money and try physical therapy first.

Please contact me if you have any questions about whether physical therapy could save you time and money. I see so many people waste a lot of time and money getting unnecessary tests and having surgery that probably could be avoided with proper training. In today’s world very few of us have time or money to waste.

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