Is Your Loved One Taking Advantage of Medicare’s Annual Wellness Visit Benefit?
Medical professionals and their patients have discovered that the key to good health is preventative care. Insurers are now pushing patients to be proactive about their health before there is an illness or injury. Medicare is doing the same.
Within a person’s first year of Medicare eligibility, and once every year after, the program encourages beneficiaries to utilize its annual wellness visit benefit.
What is Medicare’s Annual Wellness Visit?
Medicare offers two types of annual wellness visits. The first is a Welcome to Medicare screening. This visit happens during your first 12 months with Part B or Medicare Advantage.
The second is a yearly wellness visit, which you can receive once per 12 months after the Welcome screening. Even if you miss that initial screening, you can still go in for the yearly visits afterward.
During the appointment, your doctor will take your vitals including blood pressure, weight, and height. They will discuss your medical and social history. You will undergo a vision test and can talk about existing conditions, medication, or any other concerns. Your doctor will also discuss depression because seniors have an increased risk of developing it as they age.
You and your medical care provider will discuss your risk factors and treatment options, as needed. They may recommend additional preventative screenings or vaccines. They will also explain planning and advanced directives to ensure that you receive the care you want, even if you can no longer speak for yourself.
Why Should All Seniors Schedule Their Annual Wellness Visit This Year?
If both doctors and your insurance company agree, then you know there is a good reason. The bottom line is that preventative care works. It prolongs good health and lowers medical expenses.
Your doctor wants to keep you healthy, and your insurance company prefers to use cheaper methods to help you stay that way. Preventing an illness is far less costly than treating one that is already present. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” couldn’t be truer than it is now.
Your annual wellness visit will give your doctor a chance to identify signs of potential illness early when it is easier and less expensive to treat. It can also reveal potential chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Once your doctor knows you are at risk for something, they can recommend lifestyle changes or medications to reduce that risk.
Your wellness check will also include cancer screenings. Catching cancer as early as possible can save your life. You need to know it is there before cancer cells have a chance to metastasize and spread. Annual Pap smears, mammograms, and prostate exams aren’t fun, but they are far better than the alternative.
Preparing for Your Medicare Annual Wellness Exam
Going in prepared will help you get the most out of your annual wellness exam.
We often have many questions for the doctor but forget to ask them when we are in the examination room. A good way to start is by writing down your questions before you go. Keep this list and add to it as you think of things.
Also, make a list of all medications you are taking. That should include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as supplements and vitamins.
Gather all medical records that you have, including diagnostic and lab results. Bring these to your appointment. This will give your doctor a better understanding of your medical history.
You should also include your family medical history. Write this out and bring it with you so you don’t miss anything that could be important. Your doctor may recommend additional screenings or tests based on family history.
Review your current health status and where you would like your health to be in the next year or more. Do you want to live a more active lifestyle? Do you want to lose or gain weight? Create a list of these items to go over with your doctor. They can guide you in making changes safely and with your health in mind.
Depression can be difficult to talk about, but you need to let your doctor know if you are experiencing this condition or related symptoms. It is very common in older adults. You should not be afraid or embarrassed to discuss it with a medical professional.
You don’t have to live with depression. It is treatable, but only if you open up to your healthcare provider and seek help.
At Tuscan Place Assisted Living, we want our residents to live as well as possible. Our team is available to discuss your options for Medicare.