Following a healthy diet plan and making correct food choices every day is a difficult endeavor for most people. But it becomes especially difficult for diabetics and patients with kidney disease who have to pay even more attention to what they eat.

Through nutrition counseling, registered dietitians or other nutrition professionals analyze your health needs and guide you in making informed choices about what types of food best fit your nutritional needs. You also learn what foods help you reduce your risk of complications that are often the result of poor eating habits.

If your doctor suggests that you begin nutrition counseling, it’s important to know whether your Medicare insurance will help cover the cost and what you should expect from the therapy.

How Medicare Can Help You Get Nutrition Services

Your Medicare Part B medical insurance covers nutritionist counseling under the heading of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) services. With this Medicare coverage you don’t have to pay anything for MNT services because the deductible and coinsurance are not applicable. There are several conditions for eligibility though:

  • Your physician must make a referral for you to take part in medical
    nutrition therapy.
  • The registered dietitian or nutritional professional you have been
    referred to must meet Medicare requirements.
  • You must have a specific condition to be eligible. These conditions
    include diabetes, kidney disease, or if you have received a kidney
    transplant within the past 36 months.

The Benefits of Nutritionist Counseling for Diabetics

For people living with diabetes, there are several benefits to medical nutrition therapy. A registered dietitian or nutrition professional sits down with you and plans out a nutrition program that suits your individual needs. This counseling can give you the knowledge and tools to achieve and maintain proper self-management of diabetes, and to slow the rate of complications commonly associated with diabetes. Nutritionist counseling will also help you:

  • Discover which foods, and food combinations help maintain blood sugar
    levels to avoid dangerous highs and lows.
  • Learn to follow eating guidelines to reach and maintain optimal
    cholesterol and blood lipid levels to promote vascular health.
  • Control high blood pressure through proper nutrition.
  • Plan healthy meals using foods that are full of nutrients to boost
    your immune system.
  • Figure out the number of calories and nutrients needed to reach and
    maintain a healthy weight.

The Benefits of Nutrition Counseling for People with Kidney Disease

Through medical nutrition therapy services, people living with chronic kidney disease can get help meeting their nutrition requirements, slow the progress of the disease, and reduce the likelihood of complications. These services give them the help they need to:

  • Learn how to alter diet and lifestyle.
  • Figure out what foods are beneficial, and which foods to avoid.
  • Regulate caloric intake to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Find ways to decrease sodium intake to control blood pressure.
  • Reduce protein intake.

For people living with diabetes, kidney disease, or for those who have recently had a kidney transplant, medical nutrition therapy services should be an integral part of their lives. These services are a key component to feeling better, reducing symptoms and complications, and to enhancing quality of life.

If you have Original Medicare Part B, you have total Medicare coverage for nutritionist counseling. Discuss your options with your health care provider to see if you are eligible for referral. Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are required to provide at least the same benefits as Original Medicare Part A and Part B, but many MA plans include additional coverage.

Related articles:

New to Medicare

What is the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP)?