Since 2009, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has been one of several participants involved in the Healthier Generation Benefit, a landmark event in the prevention, assessment and treatment of childhood obesity. A component of the Benefit includes children and families' access to nutrition counseling provided by the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) as part of their health insurance.
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Healthier Generation Benefit FAQs
Why is the Academy Involved in this Benefit?
RDNs are the most qualified healthcare professionals with education and training to provide nutrition services and counseling. Nearly 1 in 3 children (ages 2-19) in the United States is overweight or obese, putting them at risk for serious long term chronic health problems. The Healthier Generation Benefit Program provides a tremendous opportunity for RDNs not only to positively impact children’s health and prevent chronic disease but also promotes and highlights the value of the RDN and the important role RDNS play in reducing future healthcare spending. It is well documented that obesity leads to the development of additional and costly chronic diseases including pre-diabetes, diabetes, cardiac disease, and cancer. The Healthier Generation Benefit Program offers RDNs an exciting opportunity to positively impact children’s health and wellbeing while helping lead the fight against childhood obesity.
What Does the Nutrition Component of this Benefit Entail?
Children and their families have access to a minimum of four (4) visits with an RDN for nutrition counseling services such as medical nutrition therapy. The medical eligibility for coverage is children 3 to 18 years old. The nutrition service is coordinated with visits provided by the child's primary care physician. RDNs who participate in the program must use the Academy Evidence-based Pediatric Weight Management Nutrition Practice Guideline when providing nutrition care to children.
What Payer Groups are Involved in the Benefit?
Several health insurance organizations and self-funded employers are part of this ground-breaking effort, including Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, Cigna, Capital District Physician’s Health Plan, Georgia State Health Plan, Grand Valley Health Plan, Highmark, Humana, Leviton, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, PepsiCo, Sanofi, Weight Watchers, and WellPoint. Major corporations including Houston Independent School District, Owens Corning and Paychex are participating as customers of Aetna. And, the William J. Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association also offer these benefits to their employees.
Payer groups continue to be recruited to participate in the Benefit and updates to the Academy website will be provided accordingly.
How can RDNs Participate in the Benefit?
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Academy encourage RDNs to participate in the Healthier Generation Benefit. If payers in your state are currently not participating in the Benefit, there may be an opportunity to be involved with one of the participating national employers. If your state does have payers who participate in the Benefit, you will want to ensure that you have an existing relationship with a PCP in your area. If you do not currently work with a PCP, you can contact the local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American Academy of Family Physicians to identify practitioners in your community.
The Academy encourages RDNs to review and become familiar with the Academy Pediatric Weight Management Nutrition Practice Guideline, since participation in the program requires use of the guideline as part of the RDN's nutrition counseling visits. Academy RDN members can review the nutrition practice guideline from the Evidence Analysis Library.
For more information on how to become a provider or to access the webinars and care coordination protocols visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s website.
How Can -RDNs Help Expand the Benefit?
RDNs across the country can get involved by recruiting insurers and employers in their community to sign on to the Alliance Healthcare agreement and become part of the solution of the childhood obesity epidemic. RDNs can find more information regarding this collaborative effort at Alliance for a Healthier Generation and encourage interested insurers and employers to learn more about this groundbreaking agreement by emailing the Alliance. The Alliance and the Academy hope the program will expand beyond the current payers and employers who are currently involved.
What Resources Does the Academy Have Available for Helping to Treat Overweight Children and Teens?
In addition to the Pediatric Weight Management Nutrition Practice Guideline that RDNs must use as part of their participation in the Healthier Generation Benefit, the Academy has several other patient and professional education resources available.
The Complete Counseling Kit for Pediatric Weight Management ebook shows RDNs how to tailor and provide appropriate nutrition counseling for overweight and obese children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 18. Detailed counseling plans, practical counseling tips, take-home handouts and interactive worksheets are included.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Pocket Guide to Pediatric Weight Management is a "must-own" pocket guide for the pediatric practitioner. It integrates the pediatric weight management evidence-based practice guidelines with the Nutrition Care Process to help practitioners create individualized nutrition care blended with practical and realistic advice.
The Commission on Dietetic Registration offers a Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management to RDNs and NDTRs. This program increases practitioners' knowledge of obesity and management options to enable long-term patient compliance and sustained success, and reviews care coordination for when and how to refer patients to other specialists.
Resources for Health Professionals
Academy Positions Regarding Obesity
- Disease/Special Conditions: Nutrition Intervention in the Treatment of Eating Disorders and Providing Nutrition Services for People with Developmental Disabilities and Special Health Care Needs
- MNT/Health Care: Integration of Medical Nutrition Therapy and Pharmacotherapy
- Weight Management: Interventions for the Prevention and Treatment of Pediatric Overweight and Obesity and Interventions for the Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults
- Nutrition Through the Lifecycle: Nutrition Guidance for Healthy Children Ages 2 to 11 Years
States Participating in the Benefit
Currently the HGB is available with payers in the following areas and with national employers: Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Southern California, Virginia, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.
The following billing information is for a registered dietitian nutritionist who bills through a primary care provider that sees a high volume of children with insurance through Aetna Inc. and with parents employed by one of the following companies: Lockheed Martin; Mars, Inc.; Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Owens Corning; Paychex.
- Kentucky: Humana Letter to Participant
- North Carolina: BCBS Credentialing Tip Sheet, Alliance FAQ and Aetna Billing and Coding Guidelines
- Obesity and Overweight Reference Products
- Pediatric Weight Management Care Coordination
- Sample RD/MD Business Agreement
- Items to Consider when Establishing an RDN/MD Partnership
- Quarterly Campaign
- Designing Insurance to Promote Use of Childhood Obesity Prevention Services (From the Journal of Obesity)