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Does Insurance Cover a Dietitian?

At Chain Effect, our certified nutrition counselors are often asked the question, “Does Insurance Cover a Dietitian?” Here, our expert dietitian Caroline Pope provides the answer.

If you’re interested in receiving nutritional counseling, you might think it will cost too much. On top of worrying about the services costing too much, sorting through whether insurance will cover your appointment can be confusing. As you consider scheduling a dietitian, find out more about why most insurance plans cover nutrition counseling from a dietitian and other important information about nutritional counseling coverage.

Does Insurance Cover a Dietitian?

Fortunately, most insurance plans in the U.S. cover nutritional counseling, with many covering 100% of the costs. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that insurance companies cover nutrition counseling for at-risk individuals, such as those with chronic health issues. The ACA also specifies this coverage is only for nutritional counseling appointments performed by registered dietitian nutritionists or registered dietitians.

Some of the major health insurers who cover nutrition services from dietitians include:

  • UnitedHealthcare
  • Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • Oxford Freedom
  • Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Aetna
  • Cigna

Why Does Insurance Cover Dietitians?

Besides the ACA requiring companies to cover nutritional counseling services from dietitians, many insurance companies cover it for insurees who don’t fall under the “at-risk” category. The reason for this is largely due to nutritional counseling being a preventive health service.

By covering the costs for these services, the insurance company lowers the risk they’ll have to pay for more expensive medical services in the future. Essentially, preventing the risk of health issues due to diet can result in greater savings for health insurers, so they often cover it for many of their insurees.

Since most insurance companies will cover nutritional counseling from registered dietitians, insurees can often access it with no out-of-pocket fees. Even when insurance won’t cover all of the costs or any of them at all, some nutrition counseling services will keep their costs lower. As a preventative health service, it’s often worth any out-of-pocket fees since it can prevent more costly health issues. By taking control of your nutritional health, you can prevent many chronic conditions that can occur due to improper nutrition.

Are All Nutritionists Covered by Insurance?

Not all nutritionists are covered by insurance. While registered dietitians and registered dietitian nutritionists are usually covered, other nutritionists are not. This difference is due to nutritionists not having any mandated requirements to meet before receiving the title. Though some nutritionists will have training, they won’t have been through an accredited dietetics program and dietetic internship. Without any required training, they don’t have the necessary credentials to show they can give trustworthy advice.

In contrast, registered dietitians and registered dietitian nutritionists will have received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from an accredited dietetics program. They will also have passed a national exam, finished over a thousand hours of supervised training, and have to complete continuing education every five years to keep their title as a dietitian. Due to this lengthy training and educational process, insurance companies are willing to cover the services registered dietitians offer.

Does Medicaid or Medicare Cover Dietitians?

Unfortunately, Medicaid often doesn’t include registered dietitians or nutritional counseling services as part of their coverage, or a limited amount is provided for very specific populations such as women during pregnancy However, some states like Vermont, California, Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Montana do include nutrition coverage, but the amount of coverage can vary widely. As a result, it’s best to check your state-specific Medicaid coverage or ask a registered dietitian in your area if they accept Medicaid.

Unlike Medicaid, Medicare will cover medical nutrition therapy services for those with some chronic conditions. For example, limited medical nutrition therapy visits  for patients with kidney disease or diabetes are covered by Medicare. Like the rules for the ACA, patients must receive nutritional counseling from a registered dietitian, registered dietitian nutritionist, or another nutritional professional who meets Medicare’s requirements.

How Do I Find Out If My Insurance Covers Nutritional Counseling From a Registered Dietitian?

While you try to determine if your insurance covers nutritional counseling from a registered dietitian, you’ll want to contact your insurance provider. Simply call the customer service phone number located on your insurance card to speak with them about your coverage.

Alongside asking if they cover nutritional counseling, it’s a good idea to ask if they cover virtual nutrition counseling appointments, as many patients prefer them over in-person visits, and they aren’t restricted to nutritionists in your local area. You’ll also want to clarify how many visits are covered. If you have to pay anything out of pocket and whether they cover nutritional counseling for those without chronic health conditions. You can also call a local nutritional counseling provider in your area to see if your insurance is in-network and if you’ll have to cover any costs.

Book an Appointment With an In-Network NC Dietitian  at Chain Effect

At Chain Effect, we’re proud to provide nutritional counseling services to those with or without insurance. Our nutritional counseling sessions are performed by expert registered dietitians, and our services are in-network with Cigna, MedCost, UnitedHealthcare, Cigna, and BlueCross Blue Shield NC. Even if you don’t have insurance or your company doesn’t cover it, we keep our sessions affordable to ensure all of our patients can harness the benefits of this essential type of preventative care.

Learn more about our nutrition counseling services today. If you have any questions or want to make an appointment with one of our registered dietitians, please contact us.

Authors

Our registered dietitians focus on accountability to build a trusting relationship and create a safe space to dig deep into your nutrition goals

Authored by:
Caroline Pope, MS, RDN, LDN

Caroline Pope began practicing as a Registered Dietitian in 2015 after completing her Master of Science in Nutrition from Meredith College and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill.