Does Medicare Cover Medical Nutrition Therapy?

Medicare may cover medical nutrition therapy — also called MNT — if you have diabetes, kidney disease or if you have had a kidney transplant in the last 36 months. Medical nutrition therapy is a key part of diabetes management and educating people with diabetes on living with their condition.

What Medical Nutrition Therapy Costs Does Medicare Cover?

Medical nutrition therapy is an evidence-based medical approach to treating a variety of chronic diseases, including diabetes. Medicare Part B medical insurance covers the costs of medical nutrition therapy and related services for people with diabetes and certain kidney conditions.

Examples of Medical Nutrition Therapy Services Medicare Covers
  • Your initial nutrition and lifestyle assessment
  • Follow-up visits that measure your progress in managing your diet
  • Help in managing lifestyle choices and factors that may affect your diabetes
  • Individual and group nutritional therapy services

If you require dialysis care after you are already on Medicare, it will cover MNT as part of your overall dialysis care if you receive that care in a dialysis facility. But Medicare does not cover patients with chronic kidney disease if they are already on dialysis.

If you live in a rural area with limited access to nutrition professionals, Medicare will cover medical nutrition therapy via telehealth with a registered dietitian or other qualified nutrition professional.

Medical nutrition therapy is considered a preventive service, so you pay no out-of-pocket costs if you meet Medicare’s eligibility requirements. You will not have to pay coinsurance and your Part B deductible will not apply.

What Is the Goal of Medical Nutrition Therapy?

Medical nutrition therapy is meant to manage diseases through evidence-based nutrition. It is a process that helps patients set nutrition priorities, goals for managing their disease and creates an individualized strategy plan that helps the patient take responsibility for their own care.

MNT seeks to accomplish this through a professional assessment of the patient’s needs and lifestyle and using that information in counseling that helps shape and maintain a plan to manage disease through proper nutrition.

Key Characteristics of Medical Nutrition Therapy
  • Has an intensive and comprehensive focus on nutrition therapy services.
  • Is provided by a registered dietitian or other nutrition professionals.
  • Produces an in-depth nutrition assessment personalized for the patient.
  • Sets personal goals, an individualized care plan and interventions for the patient.
  • Places emphasis on follow-up counseling to provide reinforcement in changing unhealthy behavior.

Studies have shown a link between medical nutrition therapy and lower A1C results for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. A1C is the blood test used to measure the average blood glucose — also called blood sugar — level in a person with diabetes.

Who Provides Medical Nutrition Therapy

Medicare will only cover medical nutrition therapy if you receive MNT services from a registered dietitian or another nutrition professional that meets Medicare’s requirements for providing MNT services.

A primary care doctor must order and approve your need for medical nutrition therapy. Your doctor can also refer you to a registered dietitian nutritionist or other qualified nutrition professional to implement and oversee your MNT.

Your nutrition professional will assess your behavioral and lifestyle factors in relation to your nutritional needs and how they fit into managing your condition.

What Dietitians May Do During Your Medical Nutrition Therapy Assessment
  • An inspection of your kitchen
  • An evaluation of your physical state
  • An assessment of your overall nutritional needs

Your nutrition professional will use the assessment to help you during the educational phase of your therapy. You’ll receive nutrition goals and recommendations customized to your unique needs and circumstances.

Last Modified: August 5, 2021

6 Cited Research Articles

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