Medicare covers an annual preventive wellness visit at no cost to Medicare beneficiaries. In this article, we explain what to expect from a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit, and why the benefits of healthy planning with a Medicare annual wellness exam cannot be understated.
This annual appointment is not the same as a yearly physical. It is a preventive wellness visit that gives you and your doctor a chance to review every aspect of your health together. This allows your doctor to create a preventive care plan based on your current health, family history, risk factors, and more, and then update that plan each year to help you get the most benefit from your care.
Knowledge Is Power… And Other Reasons You Need A Medicare Annual Wellness Visit
AWVs have been designed to help you understand your personal risk factors and health conditions and the steps you can take to get and stay healthier longer. They promote autonomy and self-management, encouraging you to get the proper amount of physical activity, reach and keep a healthy weight, and avoid smoking and other harmful habits. And they can help make Advance Care Planning, another vital plan-ahead step in your healthcare, easier by providing information that will help you make more informed decisions about your care today and in the future.
What is revealed during the AWV can set the tone for how you will experience health for years to come, making it an important benefit that should not be ignored. Better yet, it’s free. Medicare covers the AWV with no out-of-pocket cost to you. There are no copays and no deductibles.
Two Types of Medicare Annual Wellness Visit
- Initial Medicare Annual Wellness Visit: This is the first AWV as a Medicare patient and is for those who have had Part B for longer than 12 months. In order to include a full medical history, the initial AWV typically requires more time than future AWVs will.
- Subsequent Medicare Annual Wellness Visit: These are any AWVs performed after the initial AWV. Subsequent AWVs are covered once every 12 months. To be covered, 11 months must have passed since your last AWV.
Health Risk Assessment
The AWV begins with a Health Risk Assessment (HRA). It may help to think of this as a “wellness profile.” You might be asked to fill out a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit questionnaire or form, or a healthcare provider might ask you questions by phone or in person and fill out the information for you.
Your answers during this part of the AWV will provide insight into your current health, as well as areas of concern to focus on for the future.
Information Collected During a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit
During the AWV, some of the important information collected includes:
- Your medical history as well as your family’s medical history
- An updated list of all the doctors you see and the prescriptions you take
- Your height, weight, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI)
Your doctor will also be assessing:
- Your risk for depression or mood disorders
- Your level of functional ability and level of safety (for example, your ability to handle basic self-care tasks like bathing and eating, your risk for falls, any hearing loss you may have, etc.)
- If you have any cognitive impairment
Preparing for the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit
Medicare encourages you to gather as much of the following information as you can before the AWV. It will help you be more prepared to answer the questions for the Health Risk Assessment.
- Medical records, including immunization records
- Family health history, in as much detail as possible
- A full list of medications and supplements, including calcium and vitamins, as well as how much you take of each and how often you take them
- A full list of any doctors and other healthcare providers you see
The Valuable Takeaways of the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit
Using information collected during an AWV, your doctor will provide you with a personalized preventive care plan, with advice for how you can maintain and improve your health moving forward. This includes:
- A 5 to 10-Year Plan: This is a preventive care plan, schedule, or checklist of the health screenings your doctor recommends for you over the next five to ten years. Updated at each subsequent AWV you have, this document takes into account your current health status, screening history, and any preventive care that Medicare might recommend and reimburse for.
- A Risk Factor Analysis: This outlines chronic issues you currently face or could potentially face based on your personal risk factors. It helps you and your doctor map out a treatment plan that includes intervention steps to take now and in the future.
- Personalized Health Advice: Your doctor will supply you with any information he or she believes will help you improve your health and reduce your health risks. This may include: referrals to educational and counseling services; materials that explain certain conditions you have or are at risk for; or information and ideas that can help you better self-manage your health, such as support for improving your diet or physical activity level, losing weight, or stopping smoking.
Healthy Planning Based On the Annual Wellness Visit
In addition to a personalized prevention plan and a step toward healthy planning, one of the most important things that can come out of an AWV is a feeling of personal empowerment - a renewed sense that you have a lot you can control about your health and well-being if you will take action.
One of the reasons your doctor and Medicare encourage you to seek wellness visits and get your recommended health screenings is because they help prevent more serious illness, lessen the costs of healthcare, and save lives. But they are no good if you don’t take advantage of them.
To learn more about services from CareSync that help enhance the healthcare you receive, connect you with preventive care services, improve your relationship with your doctor, and manage your chronic conditions, visit our site today.