No physician referral needed to access physical therapy
On January 1, 2014, a new California law was enacted which allows California consumers direct access to physical therapists (individual physical therapist).

Learn more about this law here


The Short answer is Yes!

Consumers are not required to have a referral or diagnosis in order to receive physical therapist services in the State of California.

Physical therapist services may be obtained without a physician’s referral if you are a cash carrying patient, receiving treatment for up to 45 calendar days/12 visits, receiving health and wellness services, or if you are a UnitedHealthCare or Medicare beneficiary.

Please note: some health insurance companies require a referral in order for your provider to be paid.
Please confirm your benefit requirements by reviewing your coverage documents or calling member services of your respective insurance company. The contact number to your insurance company is listed on the back of your health insurance identification card.

The California Physical Therapy Practice Act requires all licensed physical therapists to disclose (in writing) the following information to all consumers receiving physical therapist treatment without a physician or surgeon referral or diagnosis:

Under California law, you may continue to receive direct physical therapy treatment services for a period of up to 45 calendar days or 12 visits, whichever occurs first, after which time a physical therapist may continue providing you with physical therapy treatment services only after receiving, from a person holding a physician and surgeon’s certificate issued by the Medical Board of California or by the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, or from a person holding a certificate to practice podiatric medicine from the California Board of Podiatric Medicine and acting within his or her scope of practice, a dated signature on the physical therapist’s plan of care indicating approval of the physical therapist’s plan of care and that an in-person patient examination and evaluation was conducted by the physician and surgeon or podiatrist.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCESNoridian Healthcare Solutions is the current Medicare Administrative Contractor for all healthcare services provided in California
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Health Insurance and Physical Therapy (For consumers)
Consumer Guide to Health Insurance

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