You can pick up a newspaper or a magazine and you will find articles about diet and nutrition to help with the management of certain diseases. Medicare covers Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) for people with diabetes or renal diseases to help them manage their conditions.
What is Medical Nutrition Therapy?
Medical Nutrition Therapy includes nutrition, therapeutic, and counseling services. The intention is to help you learn to eat right along with medication management.
Medical Nutrition Therapy is NOT diabetes self-management training and education although the two services appear to be somewhat similar. If you have diabetes you might be required to take Diabetes Self-Management Training first, before Medicare will approve MNT.
Because these are different benefits under Medicare, you would be required to have a referral/prescription for both services.
Do You Qualify?
If you have a chronic kidney disease (not on dialysis) or you are diabetic Medicare will cover this under Part B Outpatient Services. You must have a doctor’s referral/prescription. Medicare will cover 80% of the charges.
What is Covered?
- An initial assessment of nutrition and lifestyle assessment
- Nutrition counseling
- Information regarding managing lifestyle factors that affect diet
- Follow-up visits to monitor progress managing diet
During your first year, Medicare will cover up to 3 hours of one-on-one counseling services. MNT services are also given in a group class. Medicare might require you to take a group class or require more information from your referring physician for one-on-one counseling. Check with the service provider to make sure Medicare will allow the service.
For your second year and each year after that, Medicare will cover 2 hours each year up to a total of 8 hours. Medicare also requires a yearly prescription for these services for them to renew.
Who Provides MNT Services?
- Only a registered dietitian or nutrition professional
- The registered dietitian/nutrition professional must be enrolled as a provider in the Medicare program
How To Find A Provider in Your Area
Generally your physician has a referral for you. But if you would prefer to find one on your own, go to www.medicare.gov and do a provider search.
On the Medicare Site, click on the Resource Locator in the green area of the page
- Click on Doctors
- This will bring you to the Healthcare Provider Directory
- Select Other
- Click on Select a Professional
- Select Nutrition Services
Don’t assume Medicare will cover the service. If they deny the service you will be responsible to pay the charges.