Structure of the physical therapy benefit in a typical blue cross blue shield preferred provider organization plan available in the individual insurance market in 2011

Robert W. Sandstrom, Jedd Lehman, Lee Hahn, Andrew Ballard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 establishes American Health Benefit Exchanges. The benefit design of insurance plans in state health insurance exchanges will be based on the structure of existing small-employer-sponsored plans. Objective. The purpose of this study was to describe the structure of the physical therapy benefit in a typical Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) preferred provider organization (PPO) health insurance plan available in the individual insurance market in 2011. Design. A cross-sectional survey design was used. Methods. The physical therapy benefit within 39 BCBS PPO plans in 2011 was studied for a standard consumer with a standard budget. First, whether physical therapy was a benefit in the plan was determined. If so, then the structure of the benefit was described in terms of whether the physical therapy benefit was a stand-alone benefit or part of a combined-discipline benefit and whether a visit or financial limit was placed on the physical therapy benefit. Results. Physical therapy was included in all BCBS plans that were studied. Ninetythree percent of plans combined physical therapy with other disciplines. Two thirds of plans placed a limit on the number of visits covered. Limitations. The results of the study are limited to 1 standard consumer, 1 association of insurance companies, 1 form of insurance (a PPO), and 1 PPO plan in each of the 39 states that were studied. Conclusions. Physical therapy is a covered benefit in a typical BCBS PPO health insurance plan. Physical therapy most often is combined with other therapy disciplines, and the number of covered visits is limited in two thirds of plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1342-1350
Number of pages9
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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