You've got questions, we've got answers

Insurance, Medicare, and healthcare can be downright confusing. We’re here to help you each step of the way, and to make sure your experience is a positive one.


Are you open on the weekends?

On occasion, after a surgery or a manipulation procedure for example, your doctor may want you to see your physical therapists daily for a short period of time to maintain and increase your mobility. Northern PT is able to see you daily even on the weekends if this situation arises for you. For all other conditions we offer appointments from 7 am to 7 pm Monday through Thursday and Fridays 7am to 5pm.

Can I come and exercise at Northern?

Continuing your exercise program after therapy will help ensure a positive outcome for you.  We offer a fitness program for our patients after discharge from PT or OT. Learn More

Can I use a prescription from another physical therapy clinic, or come to your clinic if the doctor has recommended another facility?

Yes, by state and federal law it is your choice as the patient to choose where you receive treatment for physical therapy. Simply bring your therapy prescription to us and we can schedule your appointment. Northern Physical Therapy is in network for most major insurance plans in Michigan.

How late are you open?

At Northern PT we know you need flexible hours to make your appointments with us. Mot of our clinics are open 7am to 7pm Monday-Thursday and Friday 7am to 5pm. Check with the clinic nearest you to verify their hours.

How long is a physical therapy session?

For your first visit to Northern Physical Therapy, please plan to arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This first visit is usually longer than follow up visits because we are evaluating your condition in addition to education and treatment. Plan on 30 – 60 minutes for most follow-up visits.

How should I dress for my therapy sessions?

We want you to be comfortable during your visits. You are welcome to come in your street clothes or change into something else when you get here. If we are evaluating your knee or shoulder for the first time you may choose to bring a T-shirt or shorts, but it is not required. We do suggest comfortable shoes with non-skid bottoms for your comfort and safety.

How should I plan for and what do I need to bring for my first visit to Northern PT?

For your first appointment, please plan to arrive10 minutes before your appointed time. We are a health care office so of course there will be some paperwork and forms to sign. Parents/guardians: please come with your child or make arrangements to sign paperwork before your child’s first appointment. Things to bring: Insurance card(s), State ID, prescription for PT/OT (unless your doctor sent it directly to us), and a list of medications you are currently taking. Wear or bring comfortable fitting clothes; many of our new patient prefer to bring a T-shirt or shorts rather than change into to a gown, but that is your choice.

I live near a Northern Physical Therapy office but my doctor ordered therapy in or near his office, which is in Grand Rapids/Muskegon. What can I do?

Your doctor may not realize how far away rural communities are from Grand Rapids/Muskegon, or your doctor may not be aware that Northern can provide the same specialized therapy close to your home. You can simply take your therapy prescription to Northern Physical Therapy or let your doctor’s office know you would like to be scheduled at Northern Physical Therapy.

I received a bill and have questions. Who do I call?

Northern’s billing team is located in our Grant office and is happy to help explain and discuss any questions on your statement or bill. For questions contact our billing department at 616.259.5675 or email at billing@northernnpts.com.

I think physical therapy will help me, but do I need to see my doctor first?

A state law passed January 1, 2015 allows comsumers direct access to physical therapy without a prior referral from your physician. Because all insurance plans vary, we suggest calling our office at 616.259.5674 with any questions.

What exactly does it mean when you say “It’s my choice where I have therapy”?

Although a physician or other health care professional may suggest a certain facility or physical therapist based on experience or geographical location, the decision as to where you seek treatment is yours.

What is McKenzie Therapy?

Mckenzie Physical Therapy starts with an evaluation using repeated movements and static postures to find the movement/posture that relieves your low back pain and centralizes any lower extremity symptoms (pain, numbness, tingling). Your exercise program is then focused around the movement/posture that is relieving. Your therapist will also educate you in proper postures to avoid the positions of aggravation, and how to get into the relieving position often throughout the day, until full recovery is achieved.

What should I expect on my first visit to Northern PT?

After we have collected your paperwork, your therapist will meet with you privately to review your health history, your symptoms, your limitation and your goals for therapy. Next your therapist will complete a customized assessment that may include strength, range of motion, function, balance and mobility. Your therapist will discuss with you the findings and together you’ll create a plan of care, including the frequency of follow up visits. Usually, you will begin treatment on the first visit, as it serves as an introduction to your home program and education on the treatment of your condition. Please feel free to ask questions at any time.

Is physical therapy covered by insurance? What will my out-of-pocket expenses be?

As a courtesy to you, we will attempt to contact your insurance company to inquire about therapy co-pays and coinsurance. The information we obtain is not a guarantee of coverage. We encourage you to contact your insurance provider to inquire about your deductible. If you talk with your therapist after the initial evaluation, he/she can give you a better idea of average cost per visit.

What are your self-pay rates?

Self pay rates for those who do not have insurance, or who want to forgo billing their insurance provider, as of March, 2019, are as follows:
20 minutes – $35 /30 minutes – $55 / 40 minutes – $75 / 60 minutes – $99
Rates are subject to change at any time.

Which insurance plans do you accept?

Northern Physical Therapy participates with many insurance plans including:

  • Aetna
  • American Specialty Health
    • Silver & Fit
  • ASR Corporation/Physicians Care
  • Automobile Insurance
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Blue Care Network
  • Cigna
  • Cofinity
  • Golden Rule
  • Humana Choice Care, HMO, HVN
  • McLaren Health Plan Community (HMO)
  • Medicare
  • Medicare Advantage Plans
    • Humana Gold Choice
    • Plus Blue through BCBS of Michigan
    • Secure Horizons
    • Priority Health
    • Blue Care Network
    • Molina Healthcare
    • United Healthcare
  • Medicaid
    • Fee For Service/FFS (Straight Medicaid)
    • Blue Cross Complete (Blue Care Network Medicaid)
    • Priority Health
    • McLaren Health Plan Medicaid
    • Molina Healthcare
    • Meridian Health Plan of Michigan
  • Priority Health HMO/POS/PPO/EPO
  • United Health Care
  • UMR Grand Valley
  • TheraMatrix
  • Tricare for Life
  • Worker’s Compensation

We also participate with many other private insurance companies. If you have any questions about a particular insurance company, please contact our insurance team at 231.834.0208.

Direct Access to Physical Therapy

Why is Direct Access Important?

Direct Access went into effect on January 1, 2015. These big changes lead to questions about what this means for you and how you can benefit. There is a shift towards empowering people to take their health into their own hands and to be involved in the decisions that are being made about their healthcare. If you’re suffering from back pain, sore shoulders or even ankle sprains it is important to realize that you don’t need to live in pain. Physical Therapy is a great option because we treat the problem, we don’t just mask the symptoms.

In an effort to spread the word and give consumers a better understanding, we did a segment about Direct Access to physical therapy on WOOD TV’s eightWest. See the segment here.

What is direct access?

Direct access gives consumers and patients the ability to be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist without being referred by a doctor or other healthcare practitioner. Michigan was the last of the 50 states to implement direct access. If you feel you have a problem that may benefit from the skilled services of a physical therapist, you are able to refer yourself to physical therapy for treatment.

Can I choose my physical therapist?

Absolutely! You can choose your physical therapist the same way you would choose your doctor or dentist. In addition, if your doctor does indicate that you need physical therapy treatment, you can choose the physical therapist that you would like to work with at that point as well.

Will physical therapy be covered by my insurance company if I don’t have a referral from my physician?

Each insurance plan is different, and determination of coverage is specific to your insurance policy so we recommend that you contact your insurance company prior to scheduling your physical therapy appointment to confirm your benefits and see if a referral is required. Some insurance policies may still require a visit to your primary care physician first, or may limit your access to preferred providers only. If you do call our office first, we would be happy to help you with any of these steps.

What if I have Medicare, Priority Health, or Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance?

Priority Health patients do not need a referral from their physician to seek physical therapy treatment. In most cases, your physical therapy treatments will be covered by Priority Health, with or without a referral. Federal Medicare beneficiaries and those consumers with BCBS insurance plans are required to have a physical therapy referral by their health care provider in order for physical therapy to be covered. If you have questions on how this process works, please call our insurance specialists at 231.834.0208 and we would be happy to assist in getting you the information you need.

How much does physical therapy cost?

Physical therapy can be very affordable to those who wish to pay out of pocket. It varies depending on the injury, condition, and services provided, but in some cases patients can receive treatment and live pain free for much less than they anticipated. We would be happy to go over costs with you in advance, call us at 231.834.0208.

If a prescription from my doctor is needed, what do I need to do?

You can simply call your health care provider to ask about a referral for physical therapy – they may, or may not, ask to see you for an office visit. We are happy to assist you with this process if you like.

If I feel I could benefit from physical therapy, how do I get started?

Stop in to any of our offices or give us a call and we will get you scheduled for a consultation or your first appointment.

Who would benefit from coming directly to a physical therapist?

We see patients who are dealing with pain from a wide range of issues, including sports injuries, neck or back pain, a sprained ankle, frequent headaches, arthritis, or a repetitive overuse injury from daily activities. Basically anyone who is experiencing pain that is causing them to miss out on daily activities can contact us and begin working towards a pain free lifestyle right away.

For some people, using an alternative approach to healthcare is their preference and Physical Therapy fits here too because it is a natural and safe alternative when medications or additional procedures are not the patient’s first choice. The end goal is still to get you moving freely and living pain free, the way you were before your injury.

Direct access is going to make Physical Therapy a perfect alternative for those people because they can now walk in and set up their Physical Therapy, just like you might with other health professionals such as a massage therapist, a chiropractor, or a nutritional expert. We combine a holistic approach that includes exercise, movement and manual therapy to reduce pain, improve mobility and motion, and lessen the chances for further damage or injury.

What diagnosis can I come in with?

We treat a large variety of diagnosis, including, but not limited to:
– Recurring pain in the back, neck, shoulder, knee, head (headaches and TMJ), and sciatica
– Sports injuries like sprained ankles, knee pain, or shin splints
– Women’s health issues including pelvic pain, incontinence, and pre and postpartum issues
– Ongoing issues such as lymphedema and arthritis
– Effects from a recent surgery or major injury including knee and hip replacements and rotator cuff surgery

For some people, using an alternative approach to healthcare is their preference and Physical Therapy fits here too because it is a natural and safe alternative when medications or additional procedures are not the patient’s first choice. The end goal is still to get you moving freely and living pain free, the way you were before your injury.

Direct access is going to make Physical Therapy a perfect alternative for those people because they can now walk in and set up their Physical Therapy, just like you might with other health professionals such as a massage therapist, a chiropractor, or a nutritional expert. We combine a holistic approach that includes exercise, movement and manual therapy to reduce pain, improve mobility and motion, and lessen the chances for further damage or injury.

How does a physical therapist know if I need to see a doctor?

Physical therapists are strictly regulated by all states, and as highly trained health care professionals, we have a proven track record of effectively treating millions of patients. Our physical therapists are well qualified, both through formal education and clinical training, to evaluate a patient’s condition, assess his or her physical therapy needs and, if appropriate, safely and effectively treat the patient. Along with that comes the ability to recognize when patients demonstrate conditions, signs, and symptoms that should be evaluated by other health care professionals before therapy is instituted. If we determine that you do need to seek additional medical attention prior to receiving physical therapy treatment, we will refer you to the appropriate health care professional for treatment.

A physical therapist treating a patient without a prescription would have to refer the patient to an appropriate health care professional for treatment if there is cause to believe that symptoms or conditions are present that require services beyond the physical therapist’s scope of practice. If the patient does not show reasonable response to treatment in a time period consistent with the standards of practice as determined by the Board of Analysis (available at http://www.legislature.mi.gov SB 690-694 Page 2 of 2 Physical Therapy), the physical therapist would have to consult with an appropriate health care professional. These requirements are virtually identical to those already required of physical therapists when providing services under a prescription.

Is there any evidence that shows going to my physical therapist first will help me heal faster?

Yes. Timely treatment by a licensed physical therapist promotes optimal outcomes and recovery. An individual can relieve their pain, improve their movement, and restore their quality of life without delay.

How soon can a physical therapist get me in for an appointment?

We are usually able to get you scheduled within 2 business days. Call the office closest to you and one of our patient care specialists will be glad to help you.

How will Direct Access help save money?

Healthcare is expensive. A system that allows the patient to directly seek the services of a physical therapist can help save healthcare dollars, reduce the amount of medication that is taken, and eliminate additional testing that may not be needed because the patient is already feeling better after just a few physical therapy visits. There are times when a patient can avoid surgery by seeing a physical therapist early on. People suffering from acute sciatica pain are an example of those who may avoid surgery with early interventions from a physical therapist.

Delayed physical therapy treatment, as a result of waiting for a referral, can result in higher costs, increased number of visits, and decreased functional outcomes. In addition to helping people save time and money, direct access also results in savings in the overall health care system by reducing physician visits and testing while freeing the physicians to devote their time to patients who require the skill of a physician versus the skill of a physical therapist.

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