Yes, Medicare covers physical therapy, among other therapies, provided it is determined to be medically necessary. In other words, it must be required to treat a condition or illness, and it must be certified as necessary by a doctor.
Who is eligible for physical therapy under Medicare?
Anyone who has Medicare Part B will have their physical therapy costs covered—as long as Medicare finds the services medically necessary and reasonable. Medicare considers a service medically necessary if it is needed to diagnose or treat an illness or condition and meets accepted standards of medicine. It must also be prescribed by a doctor.
To be eligible for Medicare Part B, you must be 65 and older or meet at least one of the following requirements:
- You are disabled and have received Social Security Disability Income for two years.
- You have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
- You have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
Medicare Advantage plans also cover physical therapy, since they are required to cover everything Medicare Part A and Part B covers. There may be additional benefits with some Medicare Advantage plans, and your costs may differ from Original Medicare. So be sure to double-check your plan’s details with your provider.
Are there limits for physical therapy with Medicare?
No, there is no longer a limit on how much physical therapy Medicare will cover. Previous limits on occupational and speech language pathology therapies have been eliminated as well.
How much does physical therapy cost under Medicare?
Patients pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for therapy. Since these services are covered under Part B, the Part B deductible also applies. In 2020, the Part B deductible is $198 per year (up from $185 in 2019).1 That means you’ll need to pay $198 out of pocket each year before Medicare will start paying its portion of the costs.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan instead of Original Medicare, your costs will depend on the specific plan you select—you can contact your plan provider for details.
Does Medicare cover physical therapy at home?
Yes, Medicare will cover physical therapy at home if it is medically necessary. Medicare covers a variety of home health care services, including physical therapy, although they are usually covered under Part A rather than Part B.
What other types of therapy does Medicare cover?
Medicare actually covers several types of therapy:
- Physical therapy: This therapy is designed to help the patient improve balance, strength, flexibility, and other areas of physical ability. Physical therapy might be used after an injury or surgery to help the patient regain normal functionality.
- Speech therapy: Also known as speech-language pathology, speech therapy treats a wide range of speech and voice challenges, including trouble finding the right words, creating meaningful and grammatically correct sentences, and using the proper volume when speaking.
- Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy focuses on helping people improve or regain skills necessary for daily living. This is a broad category of therapy and includes therapy for activities of daily living like bathing and dressing, for skills needed to get and keep a job, and for social skills.
Any therapy you need must be certified as medically necessary for Medicare to pay for it. Some therapy services may not be considered medically necessary but may still be recommended by your doctor. In this case, the therapy provider is required to give you advance notice that the services will not be covered.
We hope this article has answered your questions about physical therapy and Medicare. If you need more information on Medicare coverage and benefits, check out our in-depth FAQ pages that have answers to a range of common Medicare questions.
- Medicare.gov, “Part B Costs”
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