Setting Health Goals? Here's How Insurance Can Cover Nutritionists and Dietitians

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Marketplace health insurance plans are required to cover preventive medical services provided by dietitians and may cover other services provided by some qualifying nutritionists. In addition, nutrition coverage is available to varying degrees through Medicare and Medicaid.

Read below to learn more about when nutritionists are covered by insurance and how you can qualify for coverage depending on the type of plan you have.

Key Takeaways

  • Becoming a dietitian requires more rigorous training than becoming a nutritionist, so health insurance companies may be more likely to cover dietitians’ services.
  • All Marketplace health plans cover nutrition counseling for high-risk adults and may cover other services depending on your health status and your nutritionist’s credentials.
  • Medicare covers medical nutrition therapy from both registered dietitians (RDs) and other approved nutritionists for members experiencing diabetes or major kidney issues.
  • Medicaid programs in 22 states and Washington, D.C., cover nutrition services for prediabetic beneficiaries through the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).

What’s the Difference Between a Nutritionist and a Dietitian?

The main difference between dietitians and nutritionists has to do with the requirements for using each title. There are consistent standards throughout the country for becoming a registered dietitian (RD), also known as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), such as getting a degree in a relevant field of study and passing a credentialing exam.[1]

Conversely, requirements for nutritionists vary from state to state and may involve undergoing less rigorous training to receive certain licenses or certifications. In some states, the title is unregulated, meaning anyone can call themselves a nutritionist regardless of their credentials.[1]

When Are Nutritionists Covered by Insurance?

Private health insurance coverage for nutritionists and holistic nutritionists can differ among insurers depending on the nutritionist’s credentials and the services you need. In general, the more qualified your health care provider is, the more likely your health insurance company is to cover treatments from that provider.

As a result, your insurer may be more likely to cover RDs than nutritionists but coverage may still extend to nutritionists who meet certain requirements.

For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield covers medical nutrition therapy from licensed nutritionists and dietitians in Minnesota but may not cover nutrition counseling from an unlicensed health professional.[2] Conversely, UnitedHealthcare may only cover nutrition counseling if you receive it from a licensed dietitian.[3]

Coverage may also depend on the extent to which you actually need to see a nutritionist. For example, Aetna covers nutrition counseling from licensed nutritionists, RDs and other health professionals with nutritional training as long as you have obesity, heart disease risk factors or another condition that requires a change in your diet.[4] However, someone who merely wants to lose weight for aesthetic reasons may be less likely to be approved for coverage.

Medicare Nutrition Coverage

Medicare Part B covers medical nutrition therapy for Medicare members with diabetes or renal disease and those who have had a kidney transplant in the past three years. Medical nutrition therapy qualifies as a preventive service, meaning Medicare covers 100% of the costs for eligible members. However, you will need a referral from your doctor to qualify.[5]

Services that fall under the medical nutrition therapy umbrella include a nutrition and lifestyle assessment, individual or group nutrition counseling sessions, coaching on the management of lifestyle factors that impact your condition and follow-up appointments to track how your new diet has affected your health status.[5]

Medicare covers nutrition therapy services performed by both RDs and nutritionists who meet certain criteria. Specifically, any nutritionist is eligible if they received a license or certificate in compliance with their state’s laws before December 22, 2000. If they received their license or certificate on or after that date, they must also have a bachelor’s degree and at least 900 hours of supervised dietetics practice.[6]

Medicaid Nutrition Coverage

If you are on Medicaid, you may be able to access nutritional services through the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The National DPP enables certain people with prediabetes to participate in lifestyle change programs that include training on healthy eating habits facilitated by lifestyle coaches approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).[7]

Medicaid programs in the District of Columbia and the following states offer health insurance coverage for the National DPP:[8]


New York


North Carolina








South Dakota









New Jersey


Medicaid Nutrition Coverage by State

Does Insurance Cover Dietitians?

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace health plans are required to cover diet counseling for adults who have a high risk of chronic disease. This is considered a preventive service, which means you won’t have to pay a copay or coinsurance as long as you visit an in-network provider regardless of whether you’ve hit your deductible for the year.[9]

How Do I Know if My Health Insurance Provider Covers Nutritionists or Dietitians?

The best way to know whether your health plan covers nutritionists or dietitians is to talk with a representative from your health insurance carrier. Be sure to ask specific questions related to your situation such as whether a certain practitioner or treatment is covered, what your share of the costs will be and whether your coverage extends to telehealth sessions with dietitians and certified nutritionists.

How To Get Insurance Coverage for Nutritionists and Dietitians

It’s helpful to seek out quotes from multiple health insurance providers so you can find the plan that grants you access to approved nutritionists and dietitians at the most affordable cost. However, individually reaching out to several insurance companies and parsing through quotes from each of them can be a tiresome process.

As a result, we recommend using SmartFinancial’s online marketplace platform to compare quotes. After filling out a brief questionnaire, you can be matched with agents in your area who can provide you with quotes for health plans that meet your needs. Click here to get started on receiving a free health insurance quote today.

Receive a Free Health Insurance Quote Today!


How do I find a nutritionist?

You should consider asking your doctor for suggestions if you want to see a nutritionist since your insurance may require you to get a referral from your doctor anyway. In addition, you can search for nutrition experts on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

Is a nutritionist considered medical?

Not all of a nutritionist’s services are considered medical care but licensed nutritionists may be able to provide medical services such as medical nutrition therapy.

Does insurance cover diet plans?

Health insurance generally covers nutrition counseling services from approved dietitians and nutritionists but may not cover costs related to enrolling or participating in a weight loss program or other diet plan.

How much weight can I lose with a nutritionist?

While you’re working with registered dietitian nutritionists, it’s generally recommended that you set your weight loss goal around one to one and a half pounds per week.[10]

How much do nutritionists cost without insurance?

Without insurance, nutritionist prices can vary depending on your location and the type of service you receive. For example, an initial consultation with a nutritionist may cost you $250 in New York City, while a follow-up appointment may cost you $80 in Chicago.[11]


  1. Grand Canyon University. “Difference Between Nutritionist and Dietician.” Accessed Jan. 5, 2024.
  2. Blue Cross MN. “Weight Management Care, Nutritional Counseling and Medical Nutrition Therapy,” Pages 1-2. Accessed Jan. 5, 2024.
  3. UnitedHealthcare. “Benefits Covered by UnitedHealthcare Community Plan,” Page 4. Accessed Jan. 10, 2024.
  4. Aetna. “Nutritional Counseling - Medical Clinical Policy Bulletins.” Accessed Jan. 10, 2024.
  5. “Medical Nutrition Therapy Insurance Coverage.” Accessed Jan. 5, 2024.
  6. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Medical Nutrition Therapy Services for Beneficiaries With Diabetes or Renal Disease,” Page 3. Accessed Jan. 5, 2024.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What Is the National DPP? | National Diabetes Prevention Program | Diabetes.” Accessed Jan. 5, 2024.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “State Diabetes Profiles.” Accessed Jan. 5, 2024.
  9. “Preventive Care Benefits for Adults.” Accessed Jan. 5, 2024.
  10. Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Medical Nutrition Therapy for Weight Loss.” Accessed Jan. 8, 2024.
  11. Mira Health. “How Much Does a Nutritionist Cost in 2024 Without Insurance?” Accessed Jan. 8, 2024.

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