Make the Most of Your Medicare: Annual Wellness Visits

Have you been getting the most out of your Medicare benefits? As long as you have had Medicare Part B for at least 12 months, a yearly wellness exam is completely covered. There is no cost to you, so there’s no reason not to use it! An Annual Wellness Visit can protect your health by helping prevent any conditions you are at high risk for.

The Annual Wellness Visit is not a physical. An annual physical generally includes a doctor’s exam, along with other tests, including blood work. The Annual Wellness Visit, in contrast, typically does not include a physical exam, except for measurements like your height, weight and blood pressure.

Some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans may also cover an annual physical.

What to Expect at Your Annual Wellness Visit

During your Annual Wellness Visit, your doctor will help you make a personalized plan for preventing diseases and conditions you might be at risk for. Your doctor will ask you to fill out a questionnaire, called a Health Risk Assessment. This helps your doctor determine your risks by assessing your health history and your family’s medical history. Your primary care physician will also note your medications and supplements, other doctors or specialists you are seeing, and sources you get medical equipment from, including oxygen equipment or wheelchairs.

Your doctor will also take your height, weight, blood pressure, and other routine measurements, and check you for:

  • Hearing impairments.
  • Risk of falling.
  • Ability to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing.
  • Cognitive impairment, such as signs of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
  • Risk of depression.

To keep you healthy, your physician will use the information from this exam to write you a personalized prevention plan that may include:

  • A screening schedule or checklist.
  • List of risk factors and treatment options.
  • Personalized health advice and referrals for preventive services such as weight loss, smoking cessation, fall prevention and nutrition.

If your doctor determines additional tests or services are needed at your Annual Wellness Visit, those services will be covered by Medicare and may require a coinsurance like your usual doctor visits and tests.

Make the Most of Your Medicare Plan

Original Medicare and supplemental plans like Medigap offer many benefits outside of just annual visits and physician care. Get the most out of your Medicare coverage with member resources and programs, like SilverSneakers, or learn more about additional coverage options like dental insurance.