Your Medicare Yearly Wellness Visit

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Topic Overview

What is a Medicare yearly wellness visit?

The Medicare yearly wellness visit is your time to talk and plan with your doctor about your health. It's about preventing health problems and disability. And it's about making sure you get the medical care you need. Together, you and your doctor create a health care strategy that's right for you.

These wellness visits are meant to support healthy aging. They're free, as a part of your Medicare Part B plan. To learn more about when you can have your first wellness visit, go to www.medicare.gov. Search on "wellness."

What can you expect from your yearly Medicare wellness visit?

As part of your yearly wellness visit, you can expect to:

  • Fill out a Health Risk Assessment questionnaire. This is how you tell your doctor about your overall health, medicines, mood, and daily life.
  • Have basic checks of your height, weight, and blood pressure. You may also have your vision and your memory checked. This is not a head-to-toe, full exam.

You and your doctor can then talk about your health history, health risks, and daily habits. This is a good time to bring up any needs and questions you might have. You can expect to learn:

  • Which screening tests are right for you. For example, you can discuss your options for breast cancer or colon cancer screening.
  • How to prevent certain health problems. For example, your doctor may suggest a flu shot, which helps prevent serious illness.
  • How to take the best possible care of yourself. For example, your doctor can offer help with health challenges like diabetes care, weight loss, or quitting tobacco.

You and your doctor will create a personal plan. You can use this plan to help you reach your own health and lifestyle goals.

How can you get the most out of your Medicare yearly wellness visit?

Together, you and your doctor can make the most of this wellness benefit.

Your doctor is an expert on medical care, but you are the expert on you. Here are some tips for being a good partner with your doctor.

Prepare for your wellness visit

  • When you call to schedule your visit, be sure to mention that this is for your Medicare yearly wellness visit. Your doctor's office may handle this type of appointment in a special way.
  • If you have a medical problem you want checked, it's best to make a separate appointment. Health care for a medical problem is not free like your wellness visit is.
  • You may receive your Health Risk Assessment form before your wellness visit. If you do, try to fill it out before you go see your doctor. This helps you provide correct and complete information. And it helps you make the most of your time with your doctor.
  • Ask a family member or friend to go with you. He or she can take notes, ask questions, and help you remember what your doctor says.
  • If you use prescription or over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies, or vitamins, try to bring them with you. If you can't bring them, bring a list of the medicines that you take(What is a PDF document?).
  • If you don't have an advance directive in your medical record, talk to your doctor about one. In a living will, you state your wishes about your medical care. You can also name a person as your medical power of attorney, who can make these medical decisions for you if you can't.

Follow up on your wellness visit

  • After your wellness visit, follow up on your wellness plan. That can include filling a prescription, getting tests, or making another appointment. Call your doctor if you still have questions.
  • Your wellness visit is also a good starting point for planning healthy changes in your daily life. Maybe you'd like to get better sleep, or improve how you eat or take care of yourself. You can start with one simple goal.
  • Watch closely for changes in your health. Be sure to see your doctor if you have any problems or symptoms that concern you.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

Current as ofAugust 14, 2016