Medicare Covers Medical Nutrition Therapy
“You are what you eat.” This familiar phrase reminds us that what we put in our bodies has an impact on our health and well-being. This is perhaps never truer than when one is living with a chronic health condition.
Medicare supports the importance of diet and nutrition by offering the Medical Nutrition Therapy benefit for qualified individuals. You may be eligible for this benefit if you have chronic kidney disease or diabetes, or if you’ve recently had a kidney transplant.
The Medical Nutrition Therapy Benefit
The Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) benefit allows eligible individuals with Medicare up to three hours of nutrition counseling during the first year of eligibility. As part of the benefit you may receive up to two hours of counseling each year after that. The co-payment and deductible are waived for this service, so there is no out-of-pocket charge. Your physician may refer you for additional hours of counseling if your condition changes.
Educational sessions must be conducted individually or in a group setting by a qualified provider. Sessions may be held in person or by phone and/or a video system when appropriate. Qualified providers are Medicare-enrolled registered dietitians or Medicare-approved nutrition professionals. Check now for qualified providers or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Typically, the service includes a nutrition assessment during the initial hour-long visit. You then receive four 30-minute follow-up sessions during the remainder of the first year. During the follow-up sessions you will:
- Review your medical condition and nutrition needs
- Discuss your current eating and nutrition habits
- Help develop your individualized nutrition plan
Am I Eligible?
Eligible individuals must have diabetes or kidney disease (with a GFR value of 13 to 50ml/min) but not be on dialysis, or must have received a kidney transplant within the last three years. Talk to your health care provider to see if this benefit may be appropriate for you. You must be referred by your managing physician in order to receive this service. If you are on dialysis, you may be eligible for different nutrition services specific to your situation. Your provider can help you determine if these services may be right for you.
If you are eligible for the MNT benefit, you may also be able to receive other education services, such as Kidney Disease Education and Diabetes Self-Management Training. These other services can also benefit patients with chronic kidney disease or diabetes.
Come back in May for the third and final article in this series, which will explain the Diabetes Self-Management Training benefit. You may also want to read the first article in this series, which explains Medicare’s Kidney Disease Education Benefit.
For more information about kidney disease, its risk factors and treatment options, visit KidneyFund.org. If you are a healthcare professional wanting to learn more about education services for Medicare beneficiaries with kidney disease, please visit KidneyFund.org/professionals/ to take our online accredited continuing education course.
The American Kidney Fund fights kidney disease through direct financial support to patients in need, health education, and prevention efforts. It leads the nation in charitable assistance to dialysis patients. Last year, nearly 84,000 people—1 out of every 5 U.S. dialysis patients—received assistance from the American Kidney Fund for health insurance premiums and other treatment-related expenses. The American Kidney Fund reaches millions of people annually through its national campaign, Pair Up: Join the Fight to Prevent Kidney Disease; free kidney health screenings; health education materials and courses; online outreach; and a toll-free health information HelpLine (866-300-2900). For more information, visit www.kidneyfund.org.
–This information is provided by Medicare Made Clear
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