Millions of people suffer with diabetes, but the senior population is at greater risk than most. Around 25% of seniors live with type 2 diabetes and half of all seniors are considered pre-diabetic. Doctors recommend numerous approaches for controlling diabetes and some companies produce food products designed to aid in diabetes control. Glucerna is a line of this type of food product. If you’re currently one of the millions of Medicare recipients, you may wonder if Glucerna and similar products are covered under Medicare.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
The human body breaks down much of the food you eat into sugar. Specifically, it converts food into glucose. In order to do something useful with that sugar, the body produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps the body get the glucose into the cells where it can use the sugar for energy production.
In type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t secrete enough insulin or doesn’t use the insulin it does make efficiently. Instead of getting converted into energy, the glucose builds up in your bloodstream. That buildup in the blood can cause severe damage to your body over time and lead to nerve damage, heart disease, and vision loss. In severe cases, it can mean the amputation of toes, feet, or even part of your leg.
Controlling type 2 diabetes requires a multi-pronged approach. Your doctor will recommend any number of significant dietary changes, mostly aimed at reducing your intake of processed sugars. Eating sugary foods leads to a spike in your blood glucose levels that your body can’t manage. Instead, you’ll be encouraged to eat healthy foods that release a stable amount of sugar over a longer period of time. That makes it easier for your body to manage if you still produce some insulin.
Your doctor will likely recommend you increase your physical activity with an eye toward weight control. Reducing your weight can help reduce some of the symptoms of diabetes. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may also prescribe insulin shots or other medications.
Medicare Coverage for Glucerna
Glucerna is a line of food products specifically designed for diabetics. The snacks and meal replacement shakes are meant to provide a healthy source of calories. In addition, they provide the kind of slower, stable sugar release that your body can better handle.
Medicare recipients will typically not have coverage for food supplements taken as part of a diabetes management plan. Medicare generally limits coverage to medical nutrition therapy, such as:
• A lifestyle assessment
• A nutritional assessment
• Doctor’s visits to monitor progress
You must pay for food supplements, such as Glucerna, on your own.