Anyone who is enrolled in Part B is entitled to receive a one-time Welcome to Medicare preventive exam within the first 12 months of enrollment.
This check-up is not as comprehensive as a physical exam would be, but it is an opportunity for your doctor to assess your health and help to provide a plan for your future medical care. This wellness checkup serves as a comparative baseline to help your doctors monitor your health during annual wellness visits that Medicare will cover in subsequent years.
During your Welcome to Medicare visit, your doctor will get a thorough review of your family health history and will give you tips on how you can stay healthy. They will also be able to provide you with up to date information, education, and counseling regarding important screenings or preventative services you may need, immunizations, as well as arrange referrals for other care/procedures if needed.
During this Visit, the Doctor Will:
- Record your medical history
- Check your vision
- Take blood pressure
- Check your weight and height to measure your Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Depression Screening
- Screening of Cognitive Impairment
- Assessment of functional abilities and level of safety (including the risk of falls, home safety, and performance of daily living
Before you leave the exam you will get a written plan from your doctor letting you know which screenings and other preventive services you should get in the future.
What Are Advanced Directives?
Your doctor will also talk with you about creating advance directives. Advance directives are legal documents that explain in writing what kind of health care you would want if you were too ill to speak and/or make decisions for yourself. Talking to your family, friends, and health care providers about your wishes are important, but these legal documents help ensure your wishes are followed.
What You Should Bring to Your Exam
- Information (if known) about his/her family’s health history
- Personal history of immunizations, illnesses, hospitalizations, surgeries, etc.
- If the beneficiary is seeing a new provider, he/she may wish to bring copies of previous medical records to the visit.
- A list of all prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, and supplemental medication that you currently take
How Much Does This Exam Cost?
The Welcome to Medicare exam is free of charge (no copay, no deductible) as long as the following conditions are met:
- You are enrolled in Original Medicare: you will need to go to a doctor who accepts Medicare assignment- meaning that he or she accepts the Medicare-approved payment as the full compensation.
- If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan (such as an HMO or PPO, you need to go to a doctor in the plan’s provider network.
Is it a Mandatory Exam?
Medicare Annual Wellness visits are not mandatory, but they are a valuable opportunity for patients and their primary care doctors to build strong relationships. These visits can help build a solid foundation when it comes to mapping out other necessary treatment plans for beneficiaries if needed.
*Please note– The Medicare Annual Wellness visit and an Annual Physical are not the same things. An annual physical is a more extensive exam than a Medicare Annual Wellness visit. In addition to services that may be provided during a wellness visit, a physical appointment might also include services such as lung exam, head/neck exam, check of reflexes, abdominal exam, neurological exam, and certain blood work or lab testing may be ordered.
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