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Climbing physical therapist specialist - cash-pay rate?


Original Post
Zack DiCristino PT, MSPT, OCS, SCS · · Vail, CO soon to be Denver… · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 125

I am a climbing, sports-therapy-specialist PT, currently serving as the lead PT for USA Climbing Team, considering starting a practice in Denver. I have been practicing for 15 years including time at Stanford University Athletics and Howard Head Sports Medicine in Vail, CO.  I want to get some feedback of the need for such a specialty in the area. This practice may be primarily cash pay (although you can submit your receipt for reimbursement if you have insurance) and I would like to know what rate you would be willing to pay for a 45-60 minute session. Of reference, most cash pay practices charge $175/visit at least for evaluations, follow ups ranging from $75-100. For clarification, I am not planning to charge that rate. Thanks!

Elisa R · · SLC, UT · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0

Perhaps it's a regional pricing variation but Esther Smith DPT in SLC works mostly with climbers in her cash pay practice and charges $100 for 60 min and $60 for 30 min sessions. That's more in line with what I'd be willing to pay.
Grassroots Physical Therapy - Financials

Try Cam · · Ft. Wayne, IN · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

Back when I had bad medial epicondylitis, I was paying $60 weekly out of pocket for an hour-long session with a grand inquisitor.... er, massage therapist... doing trigger point work. She would stand, kneel or use a cane on various parts of my chest and arms while having me do ROM exercises. Worked great, but then I bought an Armaid Rubbit and started doing lots of antagonist muscle group training, and stopped having issues. The past three months I’ve been getting in 15 to 20  outside days (6000 to 7500 vertical feet ) per month. No flareups.

I don’t think I’d put a price on being able to climb versus being hobbled by tendonitis, but I was pretty willing to fork out $60 an hour to a non-PT in Durango toward that end. Hope that helps, and best of luck to ye.

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 86

$75 cash/visit in downtown Denver for shoulder I hurt climbing. Not sure exactly how much I would pay but there are a lot of options in the area.

Beth Caughran · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0

I paid $60/session in C Spgs Cash no insurance for my torn iliopsoas a few years back. That was with the clinic director.

The demand is there for climbing specific therapy, but I suggest that $175 is a little steep, even for your resume. 

DaveBaker · · Durham, NC · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 138

My sports doctor (NC, so cheaper cost of living) is $125 first visit 60 mins, $65 each follow up 30 min appointment.

I think $175 cash would turn a lot of folks away, including myself, but I'd pay those same rates again in a heartbeat if I needed.

mountainhick · · Black Hawk, CO · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 120

Agree w/DaveBaker. I have a regular PT in Golden and when not specifically covered by insurance pay out of pocket $75 for a full 45 min hands on manual therapy session and exercise review when needed. No bullshit, no time being eaten up with tens, estim, ultrasound, heat/cold etc.

You listed Howard Head as a reference; I have had several from Howard Head post surgery, one I wont let touch me again, one that was good, and one that was gold.

This is typical. I've been treated by more than a dozen PTs. Three were stellar. the rest not so much. You have to shop. Unfortunately mostly trial and error.

chris magness · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 600

You're currently working with an elite sect that may honor a skewed pricing structure. Considering the population you're looking to serve --climbers-- $175 seems steep.  A lower rate would ensure a more consistent business with repeat customers.  Already suggested, Esther in SLC sets the bar.  

sandrock · · Colorado · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 115

I pay $70/HR cash for the PT at my climbing gym in the Front Range.

No way I'd pay $175 cash, it if was that expensive I'd go to someone my insurance covered. 

Zack DiCristino PT, MSPT, OCS, SCS · · Vail, CO soon to be Denver… · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 125

For clarification, the $175/visit is market avg in the Front Range. I am not saying I will charge that much. I would be looking at $100/1 hr session and $60/30-minute session. I use more of a manual therapy and exercise based approach, rarely using modalities such as ultrasound and E-Stim.

s.price · · Pagosa Springs · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,346

Half of the respondents here dispute your claim of $175 an hour as average on the Front Range. That half all live there. Where are you getting your numbers? 

Zack DiCristino PT, MSPT, OCS, SCS · · Vail, CO soon to be Denver… · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 125
s.price wrote: Half of the respondents here dispute your claim of $175 an hour as average on the Front Range. That half all live there. Where are you getting your numbers? 

PT entrepreneurs in the area, companies who assist cash-pay practices, who know the market in the Front Range, patients from other media forums other than this, and friends. Again, I am not looking to charge that much. I am just collecting feedback. Also 1/2 the respondents on this forum = 4 thus far. So, hardly reflects the majority of the population of the Front Range. National avg is anywhere from $90-200/visit depending on the state/location, That figure comes from our national PT association.

master gumby · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 152
Zack DiCristino PT, MSPT, OCS, SCS wrote:

PT entrepreneurs in the area, companies who assist cash-pay practices, who know the market in the Front Range, patients from other media forums other than this, and friends. Again, I am not looking to charge that much. I am just collecting feedback. Also 1/2 the respondents on this forum = 4 thus far. So, hardly reflects the majority of the population of the Front Range.

175$ sounds like what doctors who go through insurance charge so they can squeeze as much dough from the insurance company as possible. No chance in hell people pay 175$ out of pocket for some dude who doesn't go through insurance. 

s.price · · Pagosa Springs · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,346

True Zack. It's only 4. I'm just asking, not trying to start anything. Still seems pretty valid since you are asking climbers.

Zack DiCristino PT, MSPT, OCS, SCS · · Vail, CO soon to be Denver… · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 125
master gumby wrote:

175$ sounds like what doctors who go through insurance charge so they can squeeze as much dough from the insurance company as possible. No chance in hell people pay 175$ out of pocket for some dude who doesn't go through insurance. 

Again, looking for feedback. If you read my statement earlier, I am not looking to charge that much.

ErikaNW · · Golden, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 145
Zack DiCristino PT, MSPT, OCS, SCS wrote: For clarification, the $175/visit is market avg in the Front Range. I am not saying I will charge that much. I would be looking at $100/1 hr session and $60/30-minute session. I use more of a manual therapy and exercise based approach, rarely using modalities such as ultrasound and E-Stim.

I don't think that number is Front Range market average - perhaps pre-discounted insurance billing rates that are published, but I have never heard of that high a self pay rate for revisits (maybe for the initial eval?). Keep in mind that the Front Range has a very high density of PTs, which also means that PT salaries here tend to be about 20% less than a large part of the country, like literally everywhere else. I cash pay $120/hour for a fellowship trained manual physical therapist which is on the high side, but she is in Boulder (everything seems more expensive there). If you do go cash pay in your practice, you will be dealing with educated consumers with very high expectations - sounds like you are fine with that, just be aware it's a competitive market here. The advantage of being cash pay of course is that you aren't beholden to the 3rd party payors - which I assume is why you plan to set up a practice that way. It allows you more freedom in your treatment approaches and you can make full use of the scheduled time with fewer paperwork requirements. For those that can afford it, or who can get some back from their insurance (my situation), it is a win-win.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Colorado
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