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If you are a Medicare recipient, you can take advantage of annual wellness visits. These visits are a preventive health benefit available after having Medicare Part B coverage for at least one year. All Medicare Advantage Plans are required to offer annual wellness visits for their members. A nurse or nurse practitioner reviews your health status and helps you plan for health and wellness needs.
In most cases, the annual wellness visit will be followed by a separate medical visit with your primary care professional to close any health care gaps and address any problems identified during the visit.
Here are answers to common questions about annual wellness visits.
Why are annual wellness visits important?
The annual wellness visit allows you to review your health history and identify any current or potential health risks with a health care professional. The visit enables the nurse to focus on prevention and wellness while making sure you are current on recommended immunizations and health screenings like colonoscopies or mammograms. It also allows your primary care professional more time to focus on your medical concerns and needs at a separate physical exam.
Do I need to be 65 or older to have an annual wellness visit?
You do not need to be 65 or older to qualify for an annual wellness visit as long as you've been on Medicare Part B for at least one year.
How is an annual wellness visit scheduled?
If you are due for an annual wellness visit, you may be prompted to self-schedule the visit in the patient portal. You also may call your care team and ask to be scheduled.
If your visit is with a nurse or nurse practitioner, it's recommended to schedule this visit before the visit with your primary care professional. This allows your primary care professional the chance to address any concerns mentioned during your annual wellness visit.
How can I prepare for my annual wellness visit?
You may be asked to complete some questionnaires before arriving for your appointment, which will be sent to your patient portal account. If you cannot access the questionnaires before the appointment, plan to arrive at your appointment early to complete them.
It's helpful to come prepared to your visit with this information:
- All medications, vitamins and supplements you take, including how much and how often you take them
- Additional medical records, including immunization records
- Dates of your most recent preventive services, like a colonoscopy or mammogram, if completed by another health care facility
- Family health history, with as much detail as possible
- List of medical providers and suppliers who provide you care, equipment or services
What can you expect during an annual wellness visit?
During the visit, you'll meet with a nurse or nurse practitioner to:
- Evaluate your fall risk
- Measure your height, weight and blood pressure
- Offer referrals to other health education or preventive services
- Provide information related to voluntary advance care planning
- Screen for cognitive impairments like dementia
- Screen for depression
- Update your medical and family history
What is the cost of an annual wellness visit?
Medicare offers the visit at no cost for people who have Medicare Part B coverage for at least one year before the visit. If you are referred for other tests or services, they will be billed to your insurance. If you have a separate visit with your primary care professional following your annual wellness visit, you or your insurance carrier will be responsible for the cost of that visit.