Preventive care Your Health & Wellness

Take advantage of Medicare’s annual wellness visit

Written by Diane Archer

Take advantage of Medicare’s annual wellness visit. During this visit, Medicare covers a series of preventive care services to detect health risks. If you’d like, you can also discuss end-of-life wishes with your doctor.  It should help you and the people you love stay healthy and out of the hospital.  

The annual wellness visit is different from a physical in that it is intended for the doctor to understand your medical history and current health risks. The doctor will check your weight, vision and blood pressure. And, your doctor will do a screening for depression as well as for cognitive impairment, check to make sure you’ve had all necessary vaccines and other preventive care services, and speak with you about your safety at home. The doctor will assess your ability to bathe, feed and dress yourself.  

If appropriate, the doctor might recommend nutrition counseling, smoking cessation counseling, weight-loss counseling, all of which Medicare covers.

Medicare does not cover an annual physical. So, if you would like the Medicare wellness visit, be sure to ask specifically for it to avoid being surprised by a bill for services Medicare does not cover.

To ensure that you have no out-of-pocket costs:   

  • If you are enrolled in traditional Medicare, the visit is covered in full so long as you see a doctor who takes assignment 
  • If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, the visit is covered in full so long as you see an in-network doctor

But, keep in mind that if you ask the doctor to treat a specific condition during your visit, the doctor can charge separately for that care. 

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