Does Medicare Cover a Nutritionist?
Are you wondering if Medicare covers nutrition counseling?
If you have Original Medicare Parts A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) you may have coverage for dietary counseling if you meet the requirements for eligibility such as if your doctor determines the services are medically necessary.
Part B covers medical nutrition therapy (MNT) services and other related services if:
- You have diabetes
- You have kidney disease
- You’ve had a kidney transplant within the past 36 months
TIP: Use our Medicare plan finder to help you discover which plans offer coverage for nutritional services and compare them against your current plan.
Medicare Nutrition Counseling
Medicare covers the cost of some healthy eating and optimal nutrition services. Medical Nutritional Therapy (MNT) benefits include the following:
• Your initial assessment for nutrition and lifestyle.
• Nutritional therapy services in an individual or group setting.
• Help with managing lifestyle factors that might be affecting your diabetes.
• Follow-up visits to keep track of your progress with your diet management.
Because Medicare categorizes these services as preventive, Original Medicare Part B pays 100 percent of the expenses. You don’t have to pay any coinsurance, and you aren’t responsible for your Part B deductible for nutritional counseling services. However, you are limited to a certain number of visits to a nutritionist per year.
Also, in order to get this Medicare benefit, you must visit a Registered Dietitian or a nutrition professional who is certified to provide MNT services. The dietitian or nutritionist must also accept Medicare assignment. Your healthcare provider can give you a reference for an appropriate professional providing this type of care.
If you are getting dialysis at a facility, Original Medicare covers your MNT as part of your overall care associated with dialysis. In instances where you can’t visit a nutritionist in person, you can use Medicare’s telehealth system for your care.
TIP: Medicare covers other nutritional services like obesity screenings and weight-loss counseling. Get more nutritional advice and healthy living content when you sign up for the Medicare Benefits newsletter.
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Nutritionist Coverage with Medicare Advantage
If you have health care coverage through a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, your plan provider is obligated to provide at least the same services that you’d get through Original Medicare Parts A and B. Your plan may offer extra benefits and you might have access to more visits to a nutritionist.
Depending on the type of MA plan you have, your provider might require that you visit a health care provider in the plan’s network. If you go outside the network, you may end up paying 100 percent of your expenses.
TIP: Read our 7 Reasons to Switch Your Medicare Advantage Plan guide.
The Importance of Good Nutrition
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity, positive mental stimulus, and proper nutrition is vital to living a life without serious complications from illness and disease. This is important for people of every age, but it becomes even more so as we get older.
As we age, our nutritional needs change, and it’s important that we get as much information about a healthy diet as possible. Knowing what to eat can help us maintain good physical and mental health.
Nutritional counseling can:
- Help you determine which foods to eat and which ones to avoid
- Discover ways to reduce sodium to better control high blood pressure
- Provide tips on altering your lifestyle and diet choices
- Offer suggestions on how to regulate calories to help you maintain a healthy weight
Reports show a great number of seniors in the United States are malnourished. This can be due to a slower metabolism, reduced appetite, and the body’s incapability to use the nutrients coming from food effectively. Many seniors don’t have access to fresh, healthy produce or can’t prepare meals themselves.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet including vital nutrients can affect your organs and cognitive functions, and your ability to manage chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, dementia, diabetes, and cancer. Good nutrition also strengthens the immune system and keeps muscles and bones strong and healthy.
If you are living with a health condition like kidney disease or diabetes, you must pay close attention to your nutritional needs. That’s why it is necessary to meet with a nutritionist and get information about a proper, healthy diet. In cases like these, your Medicare benefits might help you cover the expense of visiting a nutritionist.
TIP: Discover if nutritional drinks and protein shakes are good for seniors.
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