Medicare Annual Wellness Visits

Friday, August 23, 2019

elderly woman holding hand of nurse standing behind her

Don’t miss out on one of the best resources Medicare has to offer: the annual wellness visit.

Medicare introduced the annual wellness visit back in 2011 to help beneficiaries stay healthy. It’s an opportunity to assess health risks and get a personalized prevention plan. However, only a fraction of those eligible take advantage of this, in most cases free, opportunity.

Since 2016, the annual wellness visit has been a key factor in helping Bon Secours promote wellness among Medicare beneficiaries.

“The goal is for annual wellness visits to become a standard of care because it’s the right thing to do for patients,” says Dr. Marcus Blackstone, a Bon Secours internal medicine and primary care physician.

There is no doubt these wellness visits can have a big impact. For example, a 63-year-old patient in Greenville, SC was overdue for a colonoscopy. After encouragement and education from a provider, the patient finally scheduled the procedure. This colonoscopy turned out to be lifesaving after it revealed a cancer tumor. Now after a successful surgery, the patient is cancer free.

Scheduling your visit

Here’s how Medicare beneficiaries can take advantage of this wellness opportunity.

Make sure your doctor accepts Medicare and that you meet the eligibility criteria:

  • You’ve had Medicare coverage for at least a year.
  • You have not had an annual wellness visit or Medicare’s initial preventive physical examination within the past 12 months. (The initial preventive physical examination is offered just once, during your first year of Part B coverage.)
  • When you make an appointment, be sure to specifically ask for a Medicare annual wellness visit. 

What to expect

The annual wellness visit is often longer than a standard appointment, so you’ll have more time than usual to talk with your provider.

  • The visit usually begins with the provider asking several questions about your health, your ability to perform certain activities like housekeeping or managing your medications, and your family medical history. 
  • Your provider will take routine measurements based on the answers you provided. These are often things like blood pressure and weight. 
  • You’ll talk about your health risk factors and ways to address them. This might include actions you can take on your own or referrals for health education programs or counseling services.  

Keep in mind that an annual wellness visit covers very specific things, and it’s possibly to go into areas that aren’t covered. If you’re concerned about cost, let your provider know that up front.

To schedule your annual wellness visit, find a Bon Secours primary care provider near you.

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