In January of 2011, Medicare began paying the complete cost for annual wellness visits for those enrolled in Medicare Part B. Additionally, cost sharing was eliminated for virtually all preventative services.
This eliminated quite a few excuses for those who avoided going to the doctor due to the high costs of these visits. However, there are still questions regarding wellness visits, the role of Medicare and more.
Here, you can learn more about how Medicare has taken steps to encourage recipients to get healthy, as well as the role of wellness visits. You can also learn about the various Medicare programs, such as high deductible plan F, that are working to provide better coverage for older Americans.
What is a Wellness Visit?
During a wellness visit, you work with your doctor to establish a personalized healthcare and wellness plan that can help you figure out exactly what needs to be done to improve your health. In most cases, your wellness visit will begin with a health risk assessment. This assessment includes the following:
- Establish or update your family and medical history
- Create a list of all your current prescriptions and medical providers
- Detection of any cognitive impairments
- Take relevant health measurements, such as body mass index, weight and height
The typical wellness visit should also create a screening schedule for the next five to 10 years to help you detect serious and common medical conditions.
Who can Conduct Your Wellness Visits According to Medicare?
The wellness visits you schedule can be conducted by a doctor; however, this isn’t a requirement. It’s also possible to have this conducted by a health care practitioner whose services are recognized by Medicare. This typically includes a psychologist, clinical social worker, registered dietitian, health educator, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner or other professional who works under a physician’s supervision.
In fact, in many cases, a health care provider who isn’t a physician may have more time to spend with you. Be sure the person you choose has been recognized by Medicare to make sure the visit is covered.
Working Together: Welcome to Medicare Visit and Wellness Benefits
The wellness visits you schedule build on the initial “Welcome to Medicare” checkup provided free to all recipients within a period of 12 months after first being covered by Medicare Part B. Some of the ways that the “Welcome to Medicare” and wellness benefits provided work together to ensure your health and well-being include:
- During the initial 12 months of coverage, you receive the “Welcome to Medicare” checkup, not the wellness visit
- After the initial 12 months of coverage, you can receive a free wellness visit, not the “Welcome to Medicare” checkup
Wellness Information for those Under the Age of 65
While Medicare provides a number of benefits to those over the age of 65, what about individuals who have not yet reached this milestone? While you may not have coverage yet, it doesn’t mean you should put off your wellness program.
There are many medical insurance plans that cover preventative services without any deductible or copayment. It’s a good idea to check your plan to know for sure.
The fact is, the cost of medical services has been skyrocketing for over a decade. This has presented the real potential that Medicare may eventually become bankrupt. As a result, the best thing Medicare can do is put measures in place that help ensure recipients remain healthy. That’s what the preventative and wellness checkups do.