Medical nutritional therapy, which may include dietary counseling, is designed to help you learn to eat right so you can better manage your illness. With a doctor or other health care provider’s referral, Medicare will cover 100% of the Medicare approved amount for medical nutrition therapy. The deductible will also not apply. You will pay no copay or deductible for these tests if you see doctors who take assignment. Doctors who take assignment cannot charge you more than the Medicare approved amount.
Medical nutrition therapy covered by Medicare for people:
- With diabetes
- With chronic renal disease
- Who have had a kidney transplant in the past three years
Prior to 2011, Medicare covered 80 percent of the cost of medical nutritional therapy after people paid their annual Part B deductible.
If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, you should check with your plan to see what rules and costs apply. Starting in 2012, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans will cover all preventive services the same as Original Medicare. This means MA plans will not be allowed to charge cost-sharing fees (coinsurances, copays or deductibles) for preventive services that Original Medicare does not charge for as long as you see in-network providers. If you see providers that are not in your plan’s network, charges will typically apply.
Original Medicare will generally cover three hours of medical nutritional therapy for the first year and two hours every year thereafter, although it will cover more hours if your doctor says you need them. In order to have Medicare cover them, you must get these services from a registered dietitian or other qualified nutrition professional. Talk to your doctor if you think you qualify for this benefit.