May 25, 2015

Dietetics/Nutrition Advice and Health Insurance

As you know, I'm very passionate about nutrition and eating well and I come from a family where there is a high incidence of various food intolerances.  Gluten, dairy and other food intolerances seem to be becoming more widely recognised these days so I thought you might find it interesting to know how you can protect and cover your family in case you need to consult someone about your family's nutrition.  I'll hand you over to one of my lovely sponsors, Sally from Health Insurance Comparison who is with us today to help shed some light on the topic..

Eating well is an important part of staying healthy and while most of us probably like to think that we’ve got this covered, there may be times when you need some expert support with this. Nutrition advice can be particularly invaluable if you have food allergies or if food has a big impact on your physical health due to a particular condition. Even if you don’t fall into one of these categories, you may still benefit from receiving support from a qualified nutritionist or dietician to maximise the link between diet and wellness.

Does Medicare Help With Nutrition At All?

Medicare can potentially offer some support for seeing a nutritionist but this will usually only be the case if you suffer from a condition that can be affected and managed by diet, such as diabetes or heart disease. This is part of the Chronic Disease Management (CDM) program, which is designed to be a structured care plan for patients with chronic diseases that have present for six months or more. Up to 5 allied health services can be accessed in a calendar year, and dietary advice is one of these.

If your GP refers you to see a dietitian who works within a public hospital, the consultations will usually be free. There may be a small charge for seeing a dietitian who works within a community health centre.

Dietetics and Health Insurance

If you aren’t eligible for any Medicare support and need to see a dietitian privately, the costs could be anything between $50 and $200 for an initial consultation. Follow-up appointments are usually less expensive than this and you can expect to more something in the region of $50 each for these. If you have private health insurance with Extras cover, you may be able to use this to offset some of the costs of seeing a private dietitian.

It’s important to realise that not all health funds will offer dietary advice as an Extras service. For those that do, it may be labelled as Nutrition Advice, Dietary Advice or Dietetics, depending on the health fund. Consultations with a nutritionist or dietitian will be covered, up to the annual limit on the policy in question. There is typically a waiting period of around 2 months for this type of cover.

Be aware that Nutrition/Dietary Advice services may not be available at all on basic Extras policies (even for health funds that do offer it on mid to top level Extras policies) or may only have a very low annual limit that does not go very far. Generally speaking, it’s not unusual to have an annual limit of below $1,000 - even on broader Extras policies. As with any Extras service though, annual limits can vary quite a bit between health funds so it’s definitely worth shopping around to get better value for money if you think that you will get good use out of this Extras service.

Health funds may require you to consult a registered nutrition or dietitian to be able to make claims. This is important as there is little regulation by the Australian government with regards to who can call themselves as a nutritionist or dietitian. Qualified individuals will have credentials linked to the Dietitians Association of Australia (DDA) or the Nutrition Society of Australia (NSA). 

Thanks for joining us and sharing today Sally.  If anyone has any questions for Sally, leave them in the comments below and I'm sure Sally will do her best to answer them for you. 

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