Along with eating well, exercising, limiting alcohol, and not smoking, it is important to take advantage of preventative health care services in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Through Medicare, there are two main preventative health exams available. First, there is an initial “Welcome to Medicare” preventative visit, and then there are yearly “Wellness Visits”.
The “Welcome to Medicare” Preventative Visit:
Within the first year of enrolling in Medicare Part B coverage, you are entitled to a one-time preventive visit called “Welcome to Medicare.” This visit is opportunity to get up-to-date on important health screenings and immunizations, as well as a chance to talk with your health provider about family history and ways to stay healthy and prevent disease.
During the visit, your health provider will give you written plan or checklist providing an overview of health screenings, immunizations, and other preventive services that may be needed over the course of the upcoming year. For example, if you are considered at risk for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), you may receive a referral for an ultrasound screening during their Welcome to Medicare visit.
Annual Wellness Visits:
Once you have been covered by Medicare Part B for longer than 12 months (and had 12 months pass since your “Welcome to Medicare” visit), you are entitled to an annual wellness visit that gives you the opportunity to create or update a personalized prevention plan to prevent disease and disability. A physical exam is not part of these visits, but the doctor may check on any concerns that you may have. As part of this visit, your health care provider may ask you to fill out a health risk assessment. These questions are designed to help develop your personalized prevention plan. The assessment also includes:
- A recording of your height, weight, blood pressure, and other routine measurements.
- A review of your medical history, and family medical history.
- Creating or updating your list of current health providers and any prescriptions you take.
Also as part of the the annual wellness visit, you may receive personalized health advice from your provider, as well as a list of your personal health risk factors and possible treatment options. Also, like during the “Welcome to Medicare” visit, you will receive a guide or checklist for appropriate preventive services or screenings that you may require over the coming year.
Everyone with Medicare coverage is covered for these visits once ever 12 months. There is no out-of-pocket cost for the “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit or the annual wellness visit as long as your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts Medicare-approved cost as full payment. However, if there are tests or services are performed during a wellness visit that are not covered under Medicare’s preventive benefits, there may be a co-pay and the Part B deductible may apply, so it is important to check with your doctor before any extra tests are performed to ensure that they are covered.