Does Medicare Cover Physical Therapy? Tips To Ensure You Get Paid

Physical therapy is a critical component of healthcare for many individuals, especially seniors who may face mobility and pain-related issues. Medicare, the federal health insurance program primarily for people aged 65 and older, plays a significant role in covering various medical services. However, the question of whether Medicare covers physical therapy can be a bit complex. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the details of Medicare coverage for physical therapy and provide valuable tips to help you navigate the Medicare system and ensure that you get paid for the services you provide.

Understanding Medicare Coverage

Does Medicare Cover Physical Therapy?

Yes, Medicare does cover physical therapy services under certain conditions. Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient medical services, includes coverage for physical therapy when it is considered medically necessary. This means that if a healthcare professional determines that physical therapy is essential to diagnose or treat a medical condition, Medicare is likely to provide coverage.

Conditions for Medicare Coverage

Medical Necessity

To qualify for Medicare coverage, physical therapy must be medically necessary. This determination is typically made by a physician or other qualified healthcare provider. They must establish that the therapy is needed to diagnose or treat a specific condition, illness, or injury.

Doctor’s Referral

A referral or prescription from a doctor is often required to initiate physical therapy services covered by Medicare. Ensure that the referral includes the diagnosis and recommended treatment plan.

Outpatient Services

Medicare Part B covers outpatient services, including physical therapy provided in a clinic or healthcare facility. Inpatient physical therapy, which is typically provided during a hospital stay, is covered under Medicare Part A.

Provider Qualifications

The physical therapy services must be provided by a qualified healthcare professional or therapist who is enrolled in the Medicare program and meets the program’s requirements.

Tips for Ensuring Payment

Verify Eligibility

Before providing physical therapy services, confirm that the patient is eligible for Medicare coverage. You can do this by checking their Medicare card or contacting Medicare directly.

Obtain Proper Documentation

Ensure that you have all the necessary documentation in place. This includes the doctor’s referral, detailed treatment plan, and progress notes for each session.

Code Correctly

Use the appropriate Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes when submitting claims to Medicare. Accurate coding is crucial for reimbursement.

Track Beneficiary Limits

Medicare imposes limitations on the number of therapy services a beneficiary can receive in a calendar year. Keep track of these limits to avoid overbilling.

Timely Filing

Submit your claims to Medicare in a timely manner. Claims must typically be filed within one calendar year from the date of service.

Medicare’s Payment Structure

Part B Deductible

Medicare Part B has an annual deductible that beneficiaries must meet before Medicare starts paying for services. For 2023, the deductible amount is $233. Once the deductible is met, Medicare covers 80% of the approved amount for physical therapy services.


Beneficiaries are responsible for a 20% coinsurance for Medicare-covered physical therapy services after meeting the deductible. Some beneficiaries may have Medigap (Medicare Supplement Insurance) policies that cover part or all of this coinsurance.

Coverage Limitations

Beneficiary Cap

Medicare imposes an annual financial cap on outpatient physical therapy services. For 2023, the cap is $2,110. Once a beneficiary reaches this limit, they must request an exception for continued coverage.

Exception Process

When a beneficiary reaches the therapy cap, their healthcare provider can request an exception if they believe further therapy is medically necessary. Medicare will review the request and decide whether to grant additional coverage.

Maintenance Therapy

Medicare does not cover maintenance therapy. This means that if physical therapy is no longer expected to improve a beneficiary’s condition but is needed to maintain their current function, Medicare coverage may end.

Additional Coverage Options

Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans may offer additional benefits, including coverage for physical therapy services. Beneficiaries who have chosen a Medicare Advantage plan should check with their plan provider for details on coverage.

Medigap Policies

Medigap policies, also known as Medicare Supplement Insurance, can help cover the costs associated with Medicare Part B, including the coinsurance and deductible. Some Medigap plans may provide coverage for therapy services.

Staying Informed

Keep Abreast of Changes

Medicare policies and coverage guidelines can change from year to year. It’s essential to stay informed about any updates or modifications to Medicare’s physical therapy coverage.

Network Providers

Ensure that you and your practice are enrolled as network providers with Medicare. This facilitates smoother claims processing and payments.

Seek Professional Guidance

Navigating Medicare can be complex, and the rules surrounding physical therapy coverage may vary depending on individual circumstances. Consider consulting with a healthcare billing specialist or Medicare expert to ensure compliance and maximize reimbursement.

Summarizing Does Medicare Cover Physical Therapy

Understanding Medicare coverage for physical therapy services is crucial for both physical therapists and beneficiaries. While Medicare does provide coverage for medically necessary physical therapy, there are specific conditions and limitations to be aware of. By following the tips outlined in this guide and staying informed about Medicare policies, physical therapists can ensure they provide essential services to their patients while receiving proper reimbursement for their expertise and care.