Sep 15, 2023 • 8 min read

Are Nutritionists & Dietitians Covered by Insurance?

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Nutritionists and dietitians both help people improve their health and well-being by adopting healthy nutritional habits. Oftentimes, nutritionists and dietitians specialize in a specific area, such as weight loss. While they are similar, there is a distinct difference in the amount of training and education that a dietitian has received compared to a nutritionist. 

Many people seek expert guidance from nutritionists and dietitians for a variety of reasons. Following the proper diet is an important part of disease prevention, weight management, and overall health. But are nutritionists and dietitians covered by insurance? 

The Affordable Care Act mandates that health insurance companies cover nutrition counseling from a registered dietitian (RD) or a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) for at-risk individuals. It is important to note that nutritionists without these credentials may not be covered by insurance. 

Most major health insurance companies like Aetna, Cigna, BlueCross BlueShield, and United Healthcare offer coverage for nutrition counseling. Here at Zaya Care, we check if your insurance covers visits when you request an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians so you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay, if anything at all.

This guide will go over everything you need to know about using your health insurance for a nutritionist or dietitian. 

Which types of nutritionist and dietitian visits are covered by insurance?

Before we look more closely at insurance, it is important to understand the difference between a nutritionist and a registered dietitian. Both specialize in diet and nutrition, however, there are big differences in education, training, licenses, and certifications. 

To become a dietitian, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from an accredited dietetics program. Then, you must complete 1,200 hours of supervised practice and pass the national exam. Once you earn your credentials, you need to obtain 75 hours of continuing education every five years to maintain RD status.

There are no mandated requirements to becoming a nutritionist, so a nutritionist is often a self-proclaimed title. Even though many nutritionists may have some training, they are not legally able to provide medical nutrition therapy, like registered dietitians can. 

Are dietitians covered by insurance?

Dietitian services, like one-on-one nutrition counseling and medical nutrition therapy, can be expensive if you are paying out-of-pocket. The good news is that most major health insurance companies cover nutrition services with dietitians. These include Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Centivo, Cigna, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Oxford Freedom, United Healthcare, and more. 

Some dietitians with their own private practices may take insurance. Each dietitian chooses which insurance providers they would like to be in-network with. If you are interested in working with a private practice dietitian, make sure you ask if they are an in-network dietitian with your health insurance company.

If you know your insurance company provides coverage for visiting a dietitian, you should check your insurance plan to see how many visits and how much of the costs are covered. 

Here at Zaya Care, we check if your insurance covers visits when you request an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians so you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay, if anything at all.

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Are dietitians covered by Medicare? 

Medicare Part B covers medical nutrition therapy services for specific conditions. These conditions are diabetes, kidney disease, and a kidney transplant in the last 36 months. Your doctor will need to refer you to these services for you to receive coverage. 

If your doctor recommends that you get more services than what Medicare covers or recommends a type of service that Medicare does not cover, you may need to pay for some of the costs. It is important to ask questions before scheduling with a dietitian to understand what Medicare will pay for. 

Are dietitians covered by Medicaid?

Medicaid coverage for medical nutrition therapy varies from state to state. Some states do not recognize registered dietitians as Medicaid providers, therefore that state’s Medicaid does not reimburse for medical nutrition therapy. 

However, in other states, Medicaid will cover nutrition counseling for those considered nutritionally at risk and will also cover telehealth services. If you are eligible for Medicaid, make sure you check what Medicaid covers in the state where you live. 

Are nutritionists covered by insurance?

Typically, nutritionists—also called nutrition coaches—are not covered by insurance unless they are a registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). Since nutritionists without credentials cannot legally practice medical nutrition therapy, most insurance companies do not cover their services because they are not considered medically necessary. 

How to find out if your health insurance covers dietitian visits

Before scheduling an appointment with a dietitian, it is important to be sure that your health insurance covers your visit. Below are steps that you can take to make sure you are covered and to avoid any unexpected costs.

Here at Zaya Care, we check if your insurance covers visits when you request an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians so you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay, if anything at all. 90% of dietitian visits through Zaya Care are completely covered by insurance, meaning you pay $0.

If you’d prefer to just check yourself, here are the steps you should take:

Check your insurance policy documents

Most insurance companies offer different policies that cover different services at different prices. Some insurance providers cover preventative services, and they may recognize nutrition counseling as a preventative service. 

Even if your insurance provider covers nutrition counseling, they may not cover the full amount. Your policy documents should contain details about your coverage, including specific requirements and the number of visits that are covered. 

Call your insurance provider, if necessary

To find out what nutrition services are covered by your plan, you can contact your health insurance provider directly. When speaking with a representative, you can also ask other important questions like if you must have a specific condition to receive coverage or if they cover telehealth visits. 

Check if you need a referral from a doctor

Some insurance providers require a doctor’s referral to cover dietitian services. Check with your insurance provider on everything you need before you receive dietitian services to make sure you receive full coverage. 

Check how many visits are covered

It is not uncommon for insurance plans to put a limit on how many dietitian visits they will cover. If your doctor recommends a certain number of appointments with a dietitian, ask your insurance provider how many visits are covered to ensure you do not end up having to pay out of pocket for extra visits. 

Check if there is a maximum amount of coverage and what your out-of-pocket costs are

Be sure to check with your insurance provider on the details of your coverage. Your provider may cover 100% of the nutrition services you receive, or they may have a maximum dollar amount that they will cover. Note that if you have more nutrition counseling sessions than what your provider covers, you will need to pay out of pocket for those additional sessions.

Check if telehealth/virtual visits are covered

If you need dietitian services but are not near a registered dietitian, virtual nutrition services may be a good option for you. Make sure to double-check with your insurance provider before scheduling with a telehealth dietitian to make sure those visits will be covered. 

Note when your insurance plan resets & if unused coverage rolls over 

With most insurance companies, your policy will renew each year. Some companies allow unused dollar amounts to roll over to the next year. If this is the case, you may receive more coverage. Ask your provider what their policy is on any unused coverage so you can maximize your coverage for your nutrition service needs. 

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Health insurance companies that cover nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian

Working with a registered dietitian is medically necessary for the prevention and management of certain diseases. Many health insurance companies recognize this and pay for nutrition counseling, but it is sometimes an unused benefit. 

Most major insurance companies, like those below, offer some sort of coverage for nutrition counseling. It is important to note that coverage can vary by state, provider, and policy. 

Make sure you check with your insurance plan for the details of your coverage. If your insurance provider is not listed below, you can contact them to see what they offer as far as coverage. 

  • Aetna. Aetna considers nutrition counseling a medical necessity for those with obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and eating disorders. With Aetna, there are limits to the number of visits that will be covered. You can find dietitians who accept Aetna here.
  • Anthem. Anthem is a health insurance company within BlueCross BlueShield that serves certain states including California, New York, Colorado, Missouri, and Virginia. By working with a dietitian who is in-network with Anthem, you can be assured that your dietitian services will be covered, including telehealth visits. You can find dietitians who accept Anthem BlueCross BlueShield here.
  • Empire BlueCross BlueShield. BlueCross BlueShield recognizes medical nutrition therapy as an effective treatment for certain medical conditions. Nutrition counseling by a registered dietitian is covered when ordered by a physician. Specific coverage under BlueCross BlueShield varies by state. You can find dietitians who accept BlueCross BlueShield here.
  • Centene. Centene is a healthcare enterprise that serves people in all 50 states. Centene partners with Medicare and Medicaid to provide health coverage. Centene provides some coverage for nutrition counseling, but it may vary from state to state. 
  • HCSC. Health Care Service Corporation is a customer-owned health insurer that serves members in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. HCSC offers Medicare Coverage in several counties in these states.  
  • Highmark. Highmark Health serves Americans across all 50 states. Medical nutrition therapy is covered by Highmark for a variety of medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, eating disorders, renal failure, and cardiovascular diseases. The amount of coverage may vary depending on the member’s specific plan. 
  • Humana. Humana will cover medical nutrition therapy for members with diabetes, kidney disease without dialysis, or after a kidney transplant when referred by their doctor. Humana will cover three hours of nutrition counseling during a member’s first year under Medicare. Each year after that, Humana will cover two hours of one-on-one counseling.
  • Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente is a healthcare provider that operates in certain states. Through Kaiser Permanente, nutrition services are offered to members such as individual counseling, programs, and classes. 
  • United Healthcare. Medical nutrition therapy or nutrition counseling for those with a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, or for women who are pregnant are covered under United Healthcare. Programs that aim to prevent illness by instructing the general public in general nutrition habits are not covered. You can find dietitians who accept United Healthcare here.

How Zaya Care helps you book registered dietitians covered by your insurance

Here at Zaya Care, we’re dedicated to helping people find the care they need based on their preferences, needs, and insurance. When you request an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians, we’ll check your insurance so you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay, if anything at all.

It’s worth noting that 90% of Zaya Care patients pay $0 for nutrition care with a registered dietitian as we are in-network with many major carriers.

Find a Registered Dietitian through Zaya Care

Looking for a dietitian who can help with something specific? Check out our guides that can help you find your match:

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Kamryn is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in performance nutrition and weight management. She has experience in a variety of settings as a dietitian, including sports, clinical, and private practice. She currently provides individualized nutrition and fitness coaching to adult men and women. Kamryn is passionate about using evidence-based nutrition strategies to help people achieve long-term success with their fitness goals and to maintain a healthier lifestyle.