Ask these Questions About Seeing a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Diabetes Care
It's National Diabetes Month — the time of year that brings awareness to diabetes, a disease affecting 26 million American children and adults, in addition to 79 million Americans who have prediabetes and are at risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Eating healthfully and being physically active can help control diabetes and other complications that can be prevented or delayed by monitoring blood glucose, or blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Left unmanaged, diabetes — and its related complications — can lead to heart attack, stroke, amputation, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage.
For individuals living with diabetes, seeking treatment and having access to nutritional care is vital to monitor and treat the disease. Understanding the nutrition benefits included in your individual health insurance policy can help you secure necessary treatment and monitoring of the disease, as well as maintaining an overall healthy life.
Coverage under Medicare Part B includes access to a registered dietitian nutritionist — with a referral from your physician — for 3 hours of services in the first year, and 2 hours of services each year thereafter. However, navigating the benefits included under your commercial health insurance plan can be cumbersome, so review this list of questions to ask your health insurance provider prior to visiting a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Identifying Nutrition Benefits: Questions to Ask
To find out what services your policy covers, you need to ask about the medical nutrition therapy benefits in your plan — sometimes referred to as nutrition counseling. Nutrition benefits may or may not be provided in your plan; or, they may be provided only for certain illnesses which have a medical diagnosis, such as diabetes, hypertension or obesity, or only covered for prevention. Here are some questions to get you started:
- Is this benefit limited to a specific medical diagnosis, such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia or other diagnosis in order for me to use the nutrition benefit? If so, what is included?
- What, if any medical diagnosis, is specifically listed as excluded from my nutrition benefit?
- Do I have unlimited visits or a specific number of visits available each year?
- Is a referral required? If so, who can make the referral?
- Is there a copay to see a registered dietitian nutritionist?
- What nutrition services are covered under the preventive services benefit of my plan (for example, does my plan cover obesity screening and counseling or healthy diet counseling)?
- Given my deductible I’ve already met for the year, including my plan copays and coinsurance, what will I need to pay out of pocket to see a registered dietitian nutritionist?
Find an RDN in your area to learn more about medical nutrition therapy and personalized services offered by registered dietitian nutritionists.