What is a Medicare Wellness Visit?

Beneficiaries may have heard of wellness visits, especially if they are enrolled in Medicare Part B. If they are one of the 68 percent of eligible seniors who have not heard of them or just do not know what they are or entail. Keep reading to know why they should take advantage of any of these valuable visits if they are eligible for them.

Welcome to Medicare Visit

When beneficiaries first enroll in Medicare Part B, they are eligible for a Welcome to Medicare wellness visit with a doctor. This visit is an important step in figuring out how they can stay healthy. During the examination, their doctor will get a general overview of the beneficiary’s medical and family history, as well as give them a few tests and screenings. He or she will use this information to determine a health plan and provide them with a checklist of free medical and preventative screenings available to them.

When beneficiaries have their visit, they need to bring their in-depth medical records and family medical history. Even if they are meeting with their primary care physician, the more information they can provide, the better. They should also bring any medications, vitamins, or supplements they are currently taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs and make sure they tell their doctor how often they take them and why.

One thing to note is that beneficiary’s Welcome to Medicare visit is only available within the first 12-months they are enrolled in Part B. Once they are outside of this window, they will need to wait for an annual wellness visit.

Annual Wellness Visit

The Annual Wellness visit is available to anyone enrolled in Part B longer than 12 months. Beneficiaries are only eligible for this visit once every 12 months, after 11 full months have passed since their previous visit.

This visit is used to update their personal wellness plan and act as a preventative care meeting. Their health care provider will also request that they fill out a “Health Risk Assessment,” a questionnaire designed to develop or update their illness prevention plan.

Much like a beneficiary’s Welcome to Medicare visit, the Annual Wellness visit will review their medical and family history and update health measurements like their height, weight, and blood pressure. During the meeting, their doctor will cover any risk behaviors, like smoking, and a checklist of screenings, shots, and preventative services for the year. They will also check for any cognitive impairment. Beneficiary’s primary care physician may even provide advance care planning.

How Much Do These Visits Cost?

In terms of costs, both of these types of visits are covered entirely by Medicare, as long as a beneficiary’s health care provider accepts assignment. They might be charged some or all the costs of any additional tests or services their care provider suggests that are not covered under preventative care during the visit. The Part B deductible applies to “extra” tests and services, and they may be billed coinsurance for them.

Wellness visits are underutilized by eligible citizens, despite the good they can do. If a beneficiary is within their first 12 months of their Part B enrollment, they should speak to their doctor about setting up their Welcome visit. If they have been enrolled for longer, have them set up an Annual Wellness visit for their yearly health care consultation.

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