For many Americans, losing weight is a major goal to be achieved. This isn’t always easy, though. You may try different diets or weight loss plans, but nothing may seem to work. If you’ve reached the point where you think you may need professional help, a dietician may be worth looking into. After all, most weight loss starts in the kitchen, not the gym. If this sounds like you and you’re enrolled in Medicare, these services may be covered by Medicare.
What is Medical Nutrition Therapy?
In Medicare, the type of services covered are called medical nutrition therapy (MNT). Unlike nutritional education, MNT is an evidence-based treatment program designed to assist with the treatment of certain chronic illnesses. Nutrition education is similar to what we provide in our Diet section, information on nutrition and eating healthier. This makes nutrition education an essential part of MNT, but by no means the end of it.
MNT may include nutritional assessments, diagnosis of dietary concerns, and further counseling services.
In fact, MNT may include nutritional assessments, diagnosis of dietary concerns, and further counseling services. This will all be part of a management system that includes follow-up visits and continued monitoring. Over time, this evidence-based program’s goal will be to limit and aid in the treatment of the beneficiary’s illness. As such, beyond following the basic guidelines of healthy eating, most MNT plans will be heavily individualized to the beneficiary’s needs.
Requirements for Coverage in Original Medicare
So, if you’re interested in getting MNT, can you have it covered by Medicare? Luckily, depending on the type of plan you have, you may be able to. Some conditions do apply, however. Most importantly, to have your MNT covered by Medicare, you must have diabetes, kidney disease, or have had a kidney transplant within the last 36 months. MNT that’s given as part of dialysis care at a dialysis facility will also be covered by Medicare as a part of your dialysis coverage.
Medicare considers MNT a preventative service when medically-necessary, making a doctor’s reference important for coverage.
If you qualify for MNT through Medicare, Medicare Part B will cover these services entirely. Neither the Part B deductible nor coinsurance apply in these instances. Medicare considers MNT a preventative service when medically-necessary, making a doctor’s reference important to attaining coverage. If you live in a rural area or an otherwise inaccessible area, MNT may be provided by a registered dietician or nutritional professional via telehealth.
Is It Covered by Medicare Advantage?
If you don’t have Original Medicare, instead opting for a Part C Medicare Advantage plan, you may be wondering if these services are still covered for you. Luckily, as with any service covered by Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans are mandated to include comparable coverage to Original Medicare at a minimum. This means that your Part C plan should pay for MNT services if they’re medically-necessary and given within your plan network.
As with anything involving Medicare Advantage, the specifics of this coverage differ depending on your plan.
Some Part C plans may also cover other types of nutritionist or dietician services as part of their additional wellness programs that aim to keep beneficiaries healthier. These may include dietary education services or nutrition plans. As with anything involving Medicare Advantage coverage, the specifics of this coverage differ depending on your plan. Whether that’s the details about your coverage and network or what extra services are included, you’ll need to check your plan. If these services are something that would interest you, but they aren’t covered by your current Medicare Advantage plan, it may be worth investigating one that does cover them.
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Regardless of what type of plan you have, some form of dietary assistance may be covered for you, whether that’s through a wellness program or a preventative care service. If you need a more in-depth, evidence-based program, like medical nutrition therapy, Medicare ensures that those who require it can get it with their doctor’s approval. Your diet can have a massive impact on your overall health. By making MNT accessible to those who need it, Medicare can help seniors prevent further health issues down the line.