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Free Nutrition Counseling Covered by Medicare – Have You Used This Benefit?

By Ursula Biba

A rarely used benefit: Medicare covers up to three hours of personal nutrition counseling for people with diabetes and/or kidney disease after healthcare professional referral

Studies have found that nutrition counseling leads to improved health and fewer complications, and Medicare covers exactly this type of counseling for people with diabetes or kidney disease. And yet, in 2017, only 7% of eligible people used this benefit.

If you are on Medicare, free nutrition counseling is available to you – all you need is a referral from a healthcare professional to a Registered Dietician – look here to find an RD near you. Free services may include:

  • Nutrition and lifestyle assessments

  • Individual or group nutrition services

  • Help with lifestyle factors that affect diabetes, including grocery shopping

  • Follow-up visits to track progress

  • Telehealth (phone or video) services if you live in a rural area

Medicare will cover three hours of dietary counseling the first year the benefit is used and two hours of counseling in the following years. A healthcare professional can appeal to Medicare for additional counseling if they think it is medically necessary. Get more details on Medicare’s website here.

Medicare also offers diabetes self-management training (DSMT), which offers 10-12 hours of free diabetes education. This benefit is also underutilized and covers individual and group sessions that include tips for healthy eating, being active, monitoring blood sugar, taking different diabetes drugs, and reducing risks linked to diabetes.

If you are on Medicare and interested in learning more about nutrition counseling and diabetes self-management training, share this article with a healthcare professional! If you want to learn more about switching to Medicare coverage with diabetes, check out our previous article here.