Seniors have witnessed a variety of positive changes in their Medicare benefit over the past four years. Many routine health screenings are now covered at 100% with no out-of-pocket expenses. Prescription drug coverage has been expanded in an effort to make medications more affordable for older adults who often live on a fixed income.
Another newer benefit some seniors may not be aware of is the yearly Wellness Visit.
Get to Know the Medicare Wellness Visit Benefit
As a part of the 2011 Affordable Care Act, seniors who are enrolled in Medicare receive a yearly wellness visit with their primary care physician at no cost. These appointments are designed to allow older adult’s primary care physician a chance to evaluate their overall health and wellness. They can also assess the senior’s current risk for future problems and develop a personal prevention plan.
All Medicare recipients who have been enrolled in the program for at least a year are eligible for a wellness visit.
The Medicare Wellness Visit versus the Welcome to Medicare Visit
Seniors may find themselves confused about the difference between the one-time Welcome to Medicare Visit and the Medicare Wellness Visit. The distinction is an important one to be aware of.
- The welcome visit is a one-time exam. The senior must take advantage of it during the first twelve months after they enroll in Medicare part B.
- By contrast, the Medicare Wellness Visit is a yearly benefit. Older adults enrolled in Medicare are entitled to one appointment every twelve months.
The Medicare Wellness Visit
During the first Wellness Visit a senior’s physician will:
- Evaluate weight, blood pressure and body-mass index
- Discuss the older adult’s family medical history to identify potential genetic risk factors
- Ask about lifestyle choices, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, that may impact their personal health
- Test functional abilities and reflexes
- Assess for potential cognitive problems
- Screen for depression
The physician will also conduct or help coordinate any necessary preventative screenings such as a prostate exam, mammogram, and colonoscopy.
You can learn more about the prevention benefits Medicare provides by visiting Preventive Visit & Yearly Wellness Exams.
For more tips and information on successful aging, please visit Resources for Families.