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  • Writer's pictureAriela Liberman

Direct Access to Physical Therapy: No Referral Needed

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

Did you know that in California you do not need to be referred by a physician to see a physical therapist? This is possible due to Direct Access.


What is Direct Access?

Direct Access is a law that was passed in 2014 in California that allows access to physical therapists without a doctor's referral under most insurance plans. The power is now put back into the patient's hands as they can control when and where they receive care, as well as acquire it sooner.

What are the Benefits?


According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), studies show that physical therapy is not only cheaper in the short term but also in the long term. You don't need to pay for costly doctor's visits or subsequent tests, x-rays, possible injections, or even surgeries. Scheduling with a physical therapist as the initial intervention can save you a ton of money, on average 18% from injections and 54% from surgeries. Working with a physical therapist from the beginning can cut out extra and unnecessary costs all while treating the root of the problem instead of the symptoms.


No need to wait weeks for a doctor's appointment before you see a PT, you can now schedule a visit with a physical therapist immediately. Getting a referral from a physician is not usually a quick process, as you might be referred to multiple specialists before you can see a PT. When dealing with pain, waiting to receive care can be agonizing, but direct access expedites the relief process.

Holistic pain management

In most cases, pain can be reduced and managed with physical therapy, excluding the need for pain medications, such as opioids, which are highly addictive. Here at Rehab United, we utilize the principles of Applied Functional Science which focuses on functional movements, to treat the root cause of issues instead of the superficial ones. We also personalize each treatment plan, because we know not one size fits all.

Is It Safe?

Skipping the doctor's office first can sound scary, but our physical therapists are highly qualified and licensed with extensive educational backgrounds. Our PTs offer an exam and treatment plan for every patient, leaving no stone unturned. They are also able to collaborate with a medical professional if another source of care is required.


Under Direct Access, you can only receive physical therapy for 45 days, or 12 visits, depending on which comes first. Once your care period ends, a physician's referral is required to return to physical therapy. The same goes if you have visited a physical therapist once before under Direct Access and want to receive further care. Those under Medicare also need a referral and are therefore excluded from Direct Access.

Schedule the Care You Need!

If you would like to take advantage of Direct Access and are eligible, Request an Appointment today and our front desk will get in contact with your insurance company for you. At Rehab United, we excel in combining our services to give you the best experience and get you back to doing what you love.


Ariela Liberman holds the role of Marketing Associate - Lead Generation for Rehab United, with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies. Born and raised in San Diego, she is a Southern California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.

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