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Medicare Annual Wellness Visits – What you should know

kimreuter_thumbBy Kim Reuter, Clinic Manager at Southwest Health

Understanding your Medicare annual wellness visit is not always easy. So, we’re here to help. Knowing how to prepare for it and what to expect when you get there is difficult if you’ve never been through the process before. Our goal is to make sure that each person receives the best possible care and that all expectations are not only met but exceeded.

What’s important to know about Medicare is that there are certain guidelines to each visit that the clinic must follow. Your annual wellness visit, for example, is a preventive exam covered by Medicare once every 12 months. It’s designed to get you up-to-date on basic screenings, immunizations, and preventive services. This visit is also a chance for you and your doctor to develop a personalized plan—based on your current risk factors—to manage your health and prevent disease.

When are you eligible for your initial visit?

Within your first year of enrollment in Medicare, a “Welcome to Medicare Exam” is available to you. And you’re eligible for a Medicare Annual Wellness Visits every 12 months.

What happens during your visit?

Unlike a comprehensive physical exam, your Annual Wellness Visit includes certain screening questions and vaccines. If necessary, your doctor will refer you for additional tests or services that are not covered under this visit.

What should you bring to your visit?

  • Updates on medical issues.
  • Your family history. Learn as much as you can about your family’s health history before your appointment. Any information helps clarify health risks.
  • List of prescription and over-the-counter drugs you currently take. Include how often you take them and why.
  • List of other healthcare professionals currently involved in your care.
  • Copies of advanced directives (such as power of attorney or a living will) if they’re not on already file here.

What you can expect during this visit:

  • Measure your height, weight, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI)
  • Review your medical, surgical, social history (such as alcohol, tobacco, and drug use), and family health history
  • Review your current prescribed and over-the-counter medications
  • Basic vision and hearing test
  • Basic depression and memory test
  • Health risk and safety assessment
  • Discuss end-of-life planning
  • Discuss recommended preventive screenings and services you may need in the coming years
  • Discuss referrals for other services or programs that would help minimize or treat potential health risks

Keep in mind some of these services may be performed by a nurse or medical assistant.

What will your visit cost you?

This visit is a preventive care benefit covered by Medicare at no expense to you. However, if other services are performed in addition to your screening visit, this may incur a co-payment, coinsurance, or deductible expense (such as meeting with your provider about any new problems or updates on your current conditions).

Other issues to discuss or testing desired?

Note that you will be billed for any additional services that Medicare or your supplemental insurance does not cover. If you have other health issues to discuss, please let us know when we schedule your appointment, so we can ensure there is time allowed. It may also be necessary to schedule a separate visit.

You can find out more about your wellness visit by visiting www.southwesthealth.org/medicare or by calling us at The Platteville Clinic at Southwest Health at (608) 348-4330.

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