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Medicare cap on physical therapy has therapists pushing prevention

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Updated: 9/24/2013 10:24 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  Healthcare costs are going up and Medicare caps the amount of coverage they'll provide for physical therapy, making it difficult for seniors to get the care they need. Therapists are pushing preventative care so seniors and others can avoid treatment.

Therapists say the risk of slip and fall injuries increases significantly at 40 years old and doctors see millions of people for those type of injuries annually. Balance issues leading to falls are the fifth leading cause of death for seniors.

"The cost for health care at that point escalates so a patient gets admitted to the hospital for a fracture, they need to get home health, it just kind of keeps going up and up," said Ward Daron, area manager for Heartland Rehabilitation Services in Jacksonville.

Medicare will not cover physical therapy that exceeds $1,900 per year unless it's medically necessary. Physical therapists say a bad injury will cost much more than that and new laws require them to notify Medicare if you're not progressing in therapy.

"When a patient does not make any functional progress anymore, at that point the costs might be the responsibility of the patient," said Daron.

Therapists say a 15-20 minute screening will test your balance and susceptibility for falls and can help you with tips on how to prevent falls at home so you can prevent injuries from interrupting your life.

Experts say seniors should take slippery rugs off the floor, make sure their home is well lit and have someone check in on them often.

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