What Is the Medicare Wellness Visit?

March 6, 2020

Are you a senior on Medicare? Be sure to take advantage of the annual wellness visit. Here’s what you should know.

A key component for living your best life during retirement is building a trusting relationship with an experienced primary care physician. Having confidence in your doctor will help you feel comfortable sharing health concerns big and small, no matter how embarrassing. This often allows the physician to catch potential medical issues early before they turn into serious or irreversible health conditions.

In past years, Medicare required older adults to pay for annual wellness visits out of pocket or as part of their deductible. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, this changed. Because ACA focuses on providing health insurance coverage and improving access to preventative screenings, the law includes a preventative visit each year. It is known as the annual Medicare wellness visit.

Understanding the Medicare Wellness Visit

Seniors who have been part of Medicare for at least 12 months are entitled to one wellness visit per year at no cost. During this visit, the doctor will typically screen for depression, conduct a basic vision test, review blood pressure and pulse, and test reflexes. Many physicians will calculate their patient’s body mass index and review any weight concerns.

Your primary care physician may also review or discuss:

  • Family medical history:

The wellness visit also gives seniors and their physicians time to discuss family medical history and note any genetic risks. That allows the physician to determine what preventative screenings may be necessary and how often to have them.

  • Personal medical history:

Lifestyle and past medical history can also determine what illnesses and health problems you may develop. Smoking, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and excessive drinking are a few examples. When your doctor has an in-depth understanding of your personal medical history, they can take a more proactive approach to care.

  • Preventative screenings:

Your physician will use your current health status as well as your age, personal risk factors, and family medical history to establish a preventative health screening schedule. It may include a mammogram, prostate testing, colonoscopy, cholesterol check, and diabetes screening.

Medicare Part B Benefit

While the wellness visit will be paid in full through your Medicare Part B benefit, it’s important to know follow-up testing and treatments may not. Ask your physician or their billing staff what is and isn’t covered.

If the physician’s staff isn’t able to answer your questions, you can call Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227.

Live Well during Retirement

Developing a relationship with a physician is just one of the necessary elements for ensuring you live well during retirement. There are other factors that play an important role. “4 Decisions That Impact Your Ability to Live Your Best Retirement is a quick article with tips for making informed choices.

For many older adults, moving to a senior living community after retiring improves their quality of life. Benefits include healthy meals, social opportunities, wellness programs, a secure environment, and more.

With communities throughout the southeast, Legacy Senior Living has much to offer. We invite you to call the community nearest you to learn more and to schedule a private tour!