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Is a nutritionist covered by healthcare?

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The lowdown...
  • Some health insurance companies cover the cost of seeing a nutritionist
  • A nutritionist can be an important partner in a patient’s healthcare provider team
  • A physician can be a nutritionist, but a nutritionist is not necessarily a physician

With health care costs on the rise, people are increasingly seeking healthier lifestyles and preventative measures to keep diseases at bay and live fuller lives. In this venue, more and more people are seeking the advice and guidance of nutritionists in their endeavors to maintain good health.

Get free health insurance quotes and find plans with nutritionist coverage by entering your zip code above!

Educated in the realm of nutrition science, a nutritionist may hold a graduate degree, Ph.D., and/or be board-certified. A doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional may include the practice of a nutritionist in his or her profession, but one who is a nutritionist only cannot perform the functions of other healthcare providers.

Nutritionists vs. Dieticians

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Nutritionists differ significantly from dieticians. The nutritionist works more as an advisor to those who may need help with nutritional needs. For instance, nutritionists can help to provide guidance for those who need to lose weight or manage diabetes.

They can also help athletes who may need help balancing a high protein diet in preparation for an upcoming event.

Nutritionists can be found in restaurants, school cafeterias, hospitals and other locales where dietary guidelines need to be followed. Some work in companies that manufacture foods, and bear the title “food scientist”.

Dieticians, on the other hand, serve in a capacity that normally has a narrower scope than that of nutrition. For instance, dietitians are qualified to diagnose eating disorders and develop a plan for recovery. While a nutritionist can certainly be involved in a similar process for recommending nutritional support, he or she cannot actually diagnose the disorder or prescribe an eating plan.

Will my health insurance cover a consult with a nutritionist?

Once shunned by the health insurance industry, nutritionists are gaining recognition and respect for their work in preventative healthcare. As scientific correlations between lifestyle and health continue to reach epic proportions, doctors and other healthcare providers are referring more patients than ever before to nutritionists. And, health insurance companies are seeing the results.

Wellness Pays

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Health insurance companies are finally noticing that healthier people spend less money on medical bills and that it costs less to exercise preventative health measures. Insurance companies are increasingly allowing and paying for nutritional consultations as the cost of doing so is much cheaper than covering the cost of insulin for someone who develops Type 2 diabetes from a lifetime of poor eating habits.

Many workplaces offer wellness programs that are covered by insurance. These programs include access to nutritionists, health club memberships, approved weight-loss programs, and specialized programs such as those designed to help people to stop smoking.

Check With Your Insurance Provider

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The best way to determine if your health insurance will cover the cost of a consultation with a nutritionist is to check your policy. If the service is not covered, it should be listed as a non-covered item.

If you want to be absolutely certain, however, the best thing to do is to pick up the phone and call the company. If your healthcare provider wishes to refer you to a nutritionist, someone from his or her office should be able to contact your insurance company for you to determine if the service will be covered.

Consider a Tax Break

Interestingly, some things that are not covered by health insurance are allowed for payment by Health Savings Accounts.

If you have a High-Deductible Health Plan, you may already have a Health Savings Account in place and you can use those funds for nutritionists and many other similar services.

Contributions to a Health Savings Account are tax deductible. Even if you don’t have a Health Savings Account, you may be able to deduct the cost of a nutritionist from your taxable earnings when you file your income taxes.

What does it all mean?

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Health insurance has come a long way from the days when “alternative” services were not allowed or covered. Nutritionists, acupuncture, and other non-traditional modes of treatment were not considered to be a part of medical treatment.

Times have changed and with it has come the realization that the role of food and nutrition in staving off diseases has become paramount. Digestive disorders, skin conditions, heart problems and even behavioral disorders can now be shown to be effectively treated and controlled through the proper use of nutrition.

Thankfully, health insurance companies have realized the cost effectiveness of helping people achieve good health with nutrition as well as other lifestyle changes.

Many health insurance companies also include an entire section in their policies devoted to wellness and wellness rewards for healthy living. If your insurance carrier does not cover nutrition, it may be worth your time to shop for a different health insurance carrier.

Enter your zip code below to get free health insurance quotes and find a health plan with the benefits you need to stay fit and healthy!

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