Your Medicare Wellness Visit, also called a wellness exam, is when you and your doctor put your undivided attention on your health. You’re not there because you’re sick or in pain or needing a prescription. And your doctor is not there to diagnose or treat a health problem.
The primary purpose of the Medicare Wellness Visit is prevention. It plays a key part in helping to reduce your risk for common preventable health problems such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as for injuries from falls or other causes.
You leave your visit with a personalized prevention plan that lays out the tests and exams you need to stay current with your care. And your doctor is left with a clear picture of your current health status and care needs.
Is a Medicare Wellness Visit Mandatory?
The short answer is no, you are not required to have a Medicare Wellness Visit. But when else are you able to spend real time with your doctor? To not feel rushed into and out of an exam room? To talk face-to-face with your doctor about your health – while fully clothed?!
Focused one-on-one time with your doctor is one of several good reasons to take advantage of this annual Medicare benefit. Here are a few more.
Why You Should Have a Medicare Wellness Visit Each Year
You might think, or hear others ask, why go in for a wellness exam? The doctor doesn’t do anything! While a wellness visit is not a physical exam, your doctor does plenty when you go in for this annual benefit. Some of it you may not even realize is happening.
1. Early detection helps prevent problems later: During the visit, your doctor can observe and learn a good deal about your health and wellness, such as issues with balance, hearing, eyesight or memory. These observations help your doctor determine what to keep an eye on going forward and whether to recommend additional tests or exams.
2. Health risks identified can mean health problems averted: Your wellness exam will include a health risk assessment. Usually this is a form with questions that you fill out and go over with your doctor. Your answers help your doctor identify any risks and work with you to reduce them, potentially preventing a future health diagnosis or complication.
3. Shared information helps your care team serve your needs: Your doctor will make sure your medical record is accurate and up to date. Together, you’ll review your current health conditions and medications as well as note other providers or specialists you see. All the information from your wellness exam is recorded and available to your entire care team, to ensure that your care is coordinated across all visits and services.
What to Bring to a Medicare Wellness Visit
Try to prepare for your wellness visit so you can get the most out of it. Here’s a quick list of what you might want to bring with you.
- A list of your medications, including prescription, over the counter, vitamins, supplements and herbal
- A list of all the health care providers you see, including names and contact information
- Your completed health history form and health risk assessment, if sent to you by your doctor’s office ahead of time