The annual physical is an important tool for wellness at any age. But how does a Medicare Wellness exam differ from that annual physical you’ve been getting for years?
It’s simple. As we age, the priorities of our health care change, too. When patients — even very healthy ones — get to late 60s and beyond, they need to discuss more with their medical team than just screenings. Today, the medical community realizes that planning ahead to manage Medicare patients’ hearing and vision loss, depression, and progression of chronic disease are important to keeping them healthy for longer.
It’s important for people to set their priorities as they age to maximize both quality and quantity of life. This discussion can be kicked off at the “Welcome to Medicare” visit available in the first year of eligibility, or at an annual wellness visit. If you’re of Medicare age, don’t hesitate to call for your appointment. Similarly, if you have parents or loved ones on Medicare, it is important to encourage them to schedule their appointment.
Here are the answers to some of the most common Medicare Wellness visit questions patients ask our MetroHealth experts.
Q: What is the Welcome to Medicare preventive visit?
A: When your loved one first enrolls in Medicare, the Welcome to Medicare visit is an optional one-time appointment. It serves as a reference point, or baseline, for planning their personalized medical care going forward.
Q: What does it cost?
A: It’s free for most people with Medicare.
Q: Is there a difference between the Welcome Visit and the Annual Wellness Visits?
A: The two services are similar but separate. The Welcome Visit is used to set a baseline for future, personalized care. The Annual Wellness Visits are yearly appointments that build on that baseline; these are times where your loved one can update their prevention plan based on their current health. If a patient does not schedule a “Welcome to Medicare” visit within 12 months, they are eligible for an Annual Wellness Visit.
Q: What happens during the appointment?
A: The doctor reviews health history and current health by measuring blood pressure, height and weight, testing vision and cognitive function, assessing depression risk and level of safety and evaluating medications.
Q: Can loved ones accompany patients at the visit?
A: Patients can choose to have a loved one come along to their visit to help make sure they remember to ask the right questions.
Q: How can I prepare for the visit?
A: Think about your health priorities and concerns. Are you interested in better managing your chronic disease? Maybe you want to ensure you can continue your hobbies well into old age. Be prepared to talk about any declines you’re feeling in your vision, memory or hearing.
“My daughter suggested I schedule my Medicare Wellness Visit. I’m so glad that I did. My doctor asked me in-depth questions about my balance, medications I’m taking, memory, self-care, driving and more. These questions led to important discussions that I don’t think I would have had otherwise.
I have a good plan in place now to keep me as healthy and active as possible.”
– Hannah, age 73
Remember, even if you don’t schedule a Welcome to Medicare visit, you are still eligible and encouraged to schedule an Annual Wellness Visit.
Both visits are conversations between the patient and provider to discuss health history and any concerns regarding their health, and to review medications and immunizations. They are meant to help determine what health issues may become a concern in the future based on family history and risk factors, and work to prevent these issues to stay healthy as long as possible.
Schedule a Welcome to Medicare or Annual Wellness Visit at Metrohealth by requesting an appointment online through your MyChart account, calling your MetroHealth primary care provider, or calling 216-957-2550