Medicare Covers Medical Nutrition Therapy

Every year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) sponsors a nutrition education and information campaign focused on helping people make informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape.”

What better time to learn about Medical Nutrition Therapy and whether it may be helpful for you?

What is Medical Nutrition Therapy?

Medical Nutrition Therapy is a preventive service that may be covered under Medicare Part B. It is provided by a registered dietitian or other qualified health professional. You must have a referral from your doctor to receive the service, which includes:

  • A nutrition and lifestyle assessment, based on information you provide about your eating patterns, activity level, etc.
  • Nutrition counseling and goals, based on the nutrition and lifestyle assessment and on medical information, such as blood pressure or blood glucose numbers, provided by you and your doctor.
  • Information regarding managing lifestyle factors that affect diet and health.
  • Follow-up visits to monitor your progress.

Who is it for?

Medical Nutrition Therapy can be helpful for many people with certain medical conditions, injuries or weight problems. However, it is a key component of treatment for people with diabetes or kidney disease, including people who have had a kidney transplant.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there is a direct link between diet and diabetes management. That makes sense, since blood glucose levels are affected by what you eat—specifically the carbohydrate foods you eat. Medical Nutrition Therapy can help you manage your carbohydrate intake so that the insulin in your body or that you inject can use it efficiently for energy.

It’s important to note that Medical Nutrition Therapy is not the same as diabetes self-management education. But it plays a big role in helping you manage your blood glucose levels.

When can I get it?

If you qualify and you have a referral from your doctor, then Medicare will cover Medical Nutrition Therapy every year. It covers three hours of one-to-one counseling the first year and one hour every year after that. Your doctor must prescribe the service and renew the referral every year. If your condition, treatment or diagnosis changes, then you may be able to get more hours of treatment covered.

How much does it cost?

Medical Nutrition Therapy is covered under Medicare Part B. You pay no copay and no deductible for the service, as long as you are qualified and your doctor prescribes it and refers you. The service must be provided by a registered dietitian or a Medicare-approved nutrition professional. You may want to confirm with your doctor or the service provider that Medicare will cover the cost.

–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear