What is A Medicare Annual Wellness Visit?
By Kim Crawley, RN
If you or your loved one are 65 years or older, you may be eligible for an Annual Wellness Visit, a free benefit offered by Medicare.
The Annual Wellness Visit is NOT a physical, but is a conversation between you and your healthcare professional to discuss your health history and any concerns you may have, and to review your medications and immunizations. It is also a time when you and your provider can review your existing health problems, determine what health issues may become a concern in the future and how to prevent them. The goals of an Annual Wellness Visit are to create a complete personal and family health history and to help prevent future health problems.
What to Bring to Your Annual Wellness Visit:
- A list of all your medications, including vitamins and supplements
- Names of all your healthcare providers
- Immunization records, including flu or pneumonia shots if applicable
Annual Wellness Visits are performed by a registered nurse. You can expect to discuss the following:
The visit will begin with the nurse collecting your family and personal health history. Your physician may have most of this information, but it is important to provide as much information as possible to ensure your health history is correct and complete.
A review of your medications, including those prescribed by other physicians, will be done to ensure your questions about your medications are answered, you won’t experience any negative interactions and to ensure your medications are being taken as prescribed.
A comprehensive list of your healthcare team for future reference will be created during the visit.
A comprehensive list of your immunizations is important so we can determine if you need additional vaccines.
Health Risk Assessment
A Health Risk Assessment includes your weight, height and blood pressure. You will be asked questions about your ability to care for yourself, about your memory, whether or not you are depressed, and your smoking and drinking habits. The purpose is to determine if you are at risk for future illnesses. Once the Health Risk Assessment is completed, your healthcare professional may recommend screenings in the event some concerns arose during the assessment. We are required to tell you if further screenings are required and if a co-pay will apply.
Medicare requires patients be provided with a Wellness Schedule which includes a list of all the screenings needed during the next five to 10 years. These screenings can include prostate exams, mammograms and heart-related testing. Many of these are free to the patient.
Personal Health Record
All of the information collected during your Annual Wellness Visit is compiled into one document called a Personal Health Record. You will receive a copy of your Personal Health Record during your visit. It is a great tool to use when you have to go to the hospital, see other doctors, or visit small clinics. The Personal Health Record helps ensure all of your healthcare providers have your complete health history. It can also be helpful to your adult children to have a copy of your Personal health Record in the event they need to represent you at the hospital or emergency room.
The Annual Wellness Visit gives you and your doctor a complete picture of your health and what you need to do to be healthier. The more you know about your health, the more likely you are to be your own advocate. To find a provider, click here.