Does Medicare Cover Ensure?

Ensure is a brand of pre-mixed nutrition drinks.

They are commonly recommended by physicians and registered dietitians for people who need more calories or protein than what they can get from their diets.

If Ensure has been recommended to you or a family member, however, you may wonder whether the nutrition drink is covered by Medicare.

This article explains what Ensure is and why it’s recommended as well as if Medicare covers Ensure or other nutrition supplements.

does medicare cover ensure

What is Ensure?

Ensure is brand of pre-mixed nutrition drinks manufactured by Abbott Laboratories.

They are similar to Boost, a line of pre-mixed nutrition drinks sold by Nestlé Health Science.

Here are some Ensure products (1):

  • Ensure Clear: This product contains no fat and is great for those who prefer a juice-like alternative to creamy shakes.
  • Ensure Enlive: Marketed as the most advanced nutritional product in the Ensure lineup, Ensure Enlive supports lean body mass gain and muscle strength.
  • Ensure Original: Appropriately named, Ensure Original is the original Ensure supplement. It’s nutritional formula is what the other Ensure products are based upon.
  • Ensure High Protein: This product is the high-protein equivalent of Ensure Original, containing contains nearly double the protein.
  • Ensure Plus: This product provides 40% more calories and slightly more protein than Ensure Original.

Ensure is also available as a nutrition powder that can be mixed with a beverage of choice or added to foods like mashed potatoes, soups, and casseroles to increase their calorie and protein content.

Ensure products contain anywhere from 150–350 calories and 13–30 grams of protein.

They also contain essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, and zinc.

Most Ensure products are kosher, halal, gluten-free, and suitable for people who are lactose intolerant.

You can purchase Ensure products at most major retailers and online for $1.50 to $2.50 per individual serving.

Medicare does not cover Ensure

Coverage for nutritional supplements like Ensure is discussed in section 180.2 of the Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD) manual (2).

The NCD manual provides a comprehensive overview of items or services that are covered by Medicare for recipients.

In section 180.2 titled “Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition Therapy,” Medicare recognizes that some people may require nutritional supplements like Ensure to meet their daily protein and calorie intake.

Indeed, several studies have shown that nutritional supplements like Ensure can improve nutritional status, reduce hospital length of stay and readmissions as well as decrease the risk of infections, especially when consumed by older adults (3, 4, 5).

Despite this acknowledgment, Medicare does not cover Ensure or other nutritional supplements including Juven, a nutrition powder that contains essential nutrients for healing wounds like pressure injuries.

However, as discussed in the same section of the Medicare NCD manual, Medicare covers the nutrition formula and related equipment for those who require long-term tube feeding or intravenous feeding, known as parenteral nutrition.

Homemade Ensure alternatives

Supplementing with Ensure can be an economically friendly way to decrease healthcare costs and improve yours or a loved one’s quality of life.

However, the convenience of pre-mixed delivery and a reclosable container adds to the cost of most Ensure products.

By creating your own homemade Ensure alternative, you can save on costs.

Here are three high-protein, high-calorie shakes to try:

Strawberry cheesecake

  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 package vanilla Carnation Breakfast Essentials

Peanut butter banana

  • 1 cup (240 mL) skim milk
  • 1/2 cup (66 grams) chocolate ice cream
  • 1 medium-sized banana
  • 2 tbsp (32 grams) peanut butter

Almond butter smoothie (diabetes friendly)

  • 1 cup (240 mL) almond milk
  • 1 scoop (30 grams) chocolate whey protein powder
  • 2 tbsp (32 grams) almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Orange dreamsicle (lactose-free)

  • 1 cup (240 mL) orange juice
  • 1 cup (227 grams) vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium-sized banana

Chocolate oatmeal shake (vegan)

  • 1 cup (240 mL) almond milk
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) oats
  • 2 tbsp (38 grams) chocolate syrup
  • 1 scoop (30 grams) chocolate plant protein blend

For each of these shake recipes, combine all ingredients with ice in a blender and blend until smooth.

Bottom line

Ensure is a brand of nutritional supplements manufactured by Abbott Laboratories.

These pre-mixed supplements are concentrated sources of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

While you or a loved one may rely on Ensure supplements to meet calorie and protein needs, Medicare does not cover Ensure or other nutritional supplements.

To save on costs, you can create your own homemade alternative to Ensure using common grocery items and protein powder.