There are a lot of benefits that you can get when you are covered by Medicare. One of these is the annual wellness exam. This exam is part of the coverage when you have a Medicare plan B eligibility and should be something that you don’t overlook.
The initial preventive physical exam or IPPE and the annual wellness visit or AWV are both covered by the Medicare plan B. These are examinations that can be performed by your personal physician or a medical practitioner.
The IPPE is usually referred to as the “Welcome to Medicare” visit and is done within the first year of your coverage. Now since this examination covers things that are different from the annual wellness visits, you should be sure that you go and get this done within 12 months of your eligibility for Medicare. If not, you may not get the chance to go through this visit any longer.
When it comes to the annual wellness examinations, the first one is done one year after your IPPE. This can also be done by your physician or a medical practitioner. However, you can also choose to go to other medical professionals such as dietitians, health educators, nutritionists, or any other licensed medical professional.
You will be able to get your AWV 12 months after your initial preventive physical examination if you are under the Medicare plan B. You can’t get a wellness exam performed if you’ve just had your Welcome to Medicare visit. This should be done a year apart.
Before you head to your primary care practitioner for your first ever Medicare wellness examination, you should first know what you will be getting into. Getting a general idea of what to expect is important so that you can be fully prepared for what is to come.
Here is a list of the services that are covered in this visit:
1. The first step is like all other check-ups that you’ve gone to with a doctor. You’ll get routine checks on your height, weight, blood pressure, and other measurements.
2. The next thing will be a health risk assessment. This is a list of questions that you will need to answer before or during the visits. It will contain questions about your current health condition, your behaviors or habits, and your medical needs that need urgent attention.
3. Another assessment that they will perform is your ability to function and your safety. This is to see how well you can go through the usual activities that you need to go through for your daily living. It also checks on the level of safety at home. With this assessment, your hearing and risk of falling will also be screened.
4. Now once this is over, you will then be asked about your medical and family history. This is very important since this gives your medical practitioner some context about your health and the things that he or she should keep a close eye on moving forward.
5. You will also be asked about your current medical providers. This includes durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, canes, oxygen, or any other such items that you use at home. Along with this, a list of your medications, whether they are prescription or vitamin supplements, will have to be provided as well.
6. Your medical practitioner will then create a 5-10 year screening schedule or a checklist that you will be advised to adhere to. Your physician will factor in your screening history, your health, and your eligibility for preventive services that are covered by Medicare. This is a great way for you to be able to get the screenings that you will be needing in the best time that you need it.
7. Your doctor will also go through a screening to check if you are showing signs of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. This may be a test that the doctor performs such as a memory exam to see how well you can remember things. However, they are not required to perform extensive tests by Medicare. Simple observation and reports from you or those close to you can be enough.
8. After all this, your primary care physician will also screen you for depression. Now, this is a test that you shouldn’t brush off. People who are suffering from this may not even realize it themselves until it is too late. This is only so that you can get the help that you may need right away.
9. Once all the screenings are over, your doctor will then go over the risk assessment with you. Here, you’ll be given referrals to health education courses or counseling services that may help you reduce the health risks that you may have. This can include such things as help with stopping smoking, weight loss, nutrition, and more.
10. The last thing that you will go through is some medical advice from your primary care physician. You’ll be able to get information about a treatment plan that you may have to start or a change in the current plan that you are currently in. This is a good time to see about the prescriptions that you are taking and whether or not they should be adjusted, lessened, or added to.
After you’ve gone through your first annual wellness exam, the next ones won’t be as long as it was. This is a visit to update all the things that were initially gone over.
Here’s what you should expect:
1. Your weight and vitals will be checked and updated.
2. The health risk assessment that you went through will be updated based on the progress that you’ve had for the past year.
3. An update on your medical and family history will also be conducted. This is in case there have been any changes in your health over the past year or there are any other details about your family history that you haven’t mentioned the first time around.
4. The same goes for your medical providers. Your primary care physician will also take a look and see whether the medications and equipment that you have been using have been working out well for you. If not, he or she may recommend another supplier.
5. Your screening schedule will also be checked to see if there are any new screenings that you’ll have to go through further down the road. This is also to check on the results of the screenings you’ve already gone through.
6. Another assessment will be done on your mental health. Again, this is to check on signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
7. Lastly, your doctor will give you advice about your health and refer you to programs and other educational classes that can help prevent the risks that you still may have on your assessment.
Now that you know what to expect when you go in for your first Medicare wellness examination, you should be prepared when your appointment comes.
The first thing that you have to do is to check if your primary care physician offers the wellness exam covered under Medicare. Take note that not all of them do. So if yours doesn’t, you should be able to get referred to someone who is.
When you get to your appointment, be sure that you have your Medicare card and other identification so that the health provider’s staff will be able to confirm your identity.
Take note of the appointment date. You should be within the eligibility period to be able to be covered for your wellness visit. You’ll have to be on the Medicare plan B for at least a year so be sure that your visit is after 12 months.
The next thing you have to do is to prepare all the paperwork that you will need. Be sure to include all the things that will be asked, like your medical and family history, a list of your medications, as well as a copy of your previous screenings.
Be sure to be as comprehensive with your information as possible so that the medical practitioner will be able to make informed decisions about your health care.
A list of your health care providers will also be needed so you should have them ready. Be sure to include their contact information in case your physician will need to get information from them. Prepare to also sign a waiver in case your medical records have to be pulled from these providers.
Another thing that you should do is to be ready to take notes and ask questions. This is probably one of the most important things that you could do in this wellness visit.
It is your opportunity to get the answers that you are looking for regarding your health. It is also a way for you to know the next steps to take to better your health as the years come.
When you get to the wellness examination, you should also be prepared to pay for extra costs that may incur. Additional services such as having a blood test done or getting a shot are not covered by the visit.
In the event that this does happen, you will have to cover the costs of these extras. In fact, you can even schedule these appointments at the same time and just copay the bill with Medicare.