Smiling older couple

The Medicare Annual Wellness Visit

August 19, 2019

Michael Gill, MDBy Michael Gill, MD, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics

A little known benefit for Medicare enrollees is the Annual Wellness Visit. Covered in full with no deductible or co-pay, these visits give those enrolled dedicated time with their primary caregiver to go over recommended preventive care with a focus on aging.

What to expect during your visit

Before your visit, you will be asked to complete a series of surveys to help in assessing your health and wellness as well as your functional ability. These assessments include an evaluation of physical and mental health, substance abuse problems and changes in memory.  

This is also an opportunity to discuss matters such as medical power of attorney and advance care planning. Your primary care provider will then typically review whether you are up-to-date on all recommended screening tests, such as mammograms, colonoscopies and bone density tests. 

These visits are not the same as your annual "physicals," and is not meant to assess the status of all existing medical conditions. If there are new complaints, your doctor may have you come back at a separate time to evaluatefurther.

Does the visit include blood work?

There are limited selections of screening blood work which are covered under an annual wellness visit, including tests for diabetes, hepatitis C and prostate cancer. However, blood tests for other medical conditions may not be included in this visit.

Individualized Treatment Plan

One of the requirements of the annual wellness visit is to provide you with a customized preventive treatment plan that lists what screenings need to be performed, when and how often. The visit also lists recommended immunizations (some of which might be administered during the visit) and when boosters are due.

Referrals

Based on your current state of health, your doctor might also recommend a consultation with other specialists such as ophthalmologists for eye exams, dietitians for help with nutrition or weight loss or tests with hearing specialists.

How to Schedule a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit

To schedule your visit, speak with your Loyola primary care provider about the qualifications needed to set up an appointment. Your provider will help you set up the appointment in their office.

Michael Gill, MD, PhD, FAAP, practices internal and pediatric medicine at Loyola Medicine. His clinical interests include allergies, asthma and diabetes.

Dr. Gill earned his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and completed a residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical Center.