Does Medicare Cover a Nutritionist? 

Most people associate eating a nutritious diet with childhood, but it is just as important for adults and seniors. As people age, it becomes harder to maintain a healthy diet because of life changes such as: 

  • Problems chewing food
  • A reduced sense of taste or smell
  • Economic issues that make purchasing healthy food more difficult
  • Living alone or having mobility issues that prevent proper food preparation or feeding difficulties
  • Certain medications that affect appetite

Even if healthy eating is difficult, it’s important to get the right amount of nutrients so the body can function properly, fight off illness, and prevent certain medical conditions like osteoporosis, hypertension, heart disease, certain forms of cancer, and type two diabetes. 

Your health care provider might suggest that you visit a registered dietitian nutritionist for professional advice on ways to eat better and follow healthy habits to ensure that you’re getting the right nutrition requirements for your age and needs. 

When does Medicare cover seeing a nutritionist? 

If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare Parts A (hospital insurance) and B (medical insurance), you may have coverage for a nutritionist if you qualify. 

Medicare Part B covers the services of a medical nutrition therapist if your health care provider has diagnosed and certified that you have diabetes or kidney disease. You may also be eligible if you’ve had a kidney transplant within the past 36 months, and if your physician refers you for these services. 

If you qualify for this coverage, Medicare Part B pays 100 percent of the final approved cost for these services because they are categorized as preventive services.  

Medicare Part B covers the following services provided by a medical nutrition therapist who accepts Medicare assignment:

  • An initial assessment of your nutrition and lifestyle
  • Nutritional therapy services as an individual or in a group
  • Assistance in the management of lifestyle issues that may affect your diabetes
  • Follow-up appointments to assess your progress in diet and lifestyle management

To be eligible for Medicare coverage, you must get these services from a registered dietitian or a nutrition professional who meets specific requirements. 

If you are currently getting dialysis at a Medicare-affiliated dialysis facility, your coverage for services provided by a medical nutrition therapist is included in your overall dialysis care. 

If you live in a rural area, and you can’t visit a nutritionist in person, you may qualify for therapy services from a nutritionist through telehealth communications. 

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, your plan provider must cover at minimum the same benefits as Original Medicare Parts A and B. Most Medicare Advantage plans also cover extra benefits and additional coverage like prescription drugs. Depending on the type of MA plan you have, you may need to use health care providers, medical facilities, and hospitals that your plan lists on its network of approved providers. You may also be responsible for paying a copayment or coinsurance for the services your nutritionist provides. 

Check with your MA plan provider if you aren’t certain about restrictions or charges associated with your care before making medical appointments. 

How much does a nutritionist cost without Medicare coverage? 

If Medicare doesn’t cover the services of a registered dietitian or nutritionist, the average cost per visit typically runs between $70 and $100, with the initial consultation appointment slightly more expensive. Your final cost depends on where you live, who you visit, and what services you get. 

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