If you have Medicare Part B Medical Insurance, your coverage includes an annual preventative health care visit, also called a Wellness Exam. This visit happens at a physician’s office such as ours, Family Medical Clinic in Alaska.
Medicare currently offers two types of Medicare Wellness Exams: a Welcome Exam, which must occur within the first 12 months after you begin coverage, and a Yearly Wellness Visit (or Annual Wellness Visit).
The Medicare Welcome Exam
As the name implies, the Medicare Welcome Exam is your initial visit to your new physician, and it occurs within the first year you’re on Medicare Part B. This office visit helps the doctor become familiar with your medical history and your current health.
During the exam, your doctor will screen you for common health issues. He or she will also provide counseling and education so you can make lifestyle changes—if needed—to help protect or improve your health or prevent illness.
A typical Welcome Exam includes:
- Height, weight, and blood pressure measurements
- A BMI (body mass index) calculation
- A vision test
- Medical screenings and shots (depending on your age and other factors)
- A depression screening and review of risk factors
- Referrals to specialists if needed
- A personalized, written health plan outlining a schedule for future preventative health services, screenings and shots
- Information about your coverage for these additional services
- An opportunity to talk to a doctor about establishing advance directives (also known as “living wills”—documents that spell out your decisions regarding end-of-life care)
After your Welcome Exam, from this point forward your annual visit is called an Annual Wellness Exam or Yearly Wellness Exam.
The Medicare Yearly (Annual) Wellness Exam
After you’ve been on Medicare Part B for one year (12 months), you’re eligible to get annual preventative health care exams. During these preventative care visits, you can continue to personalize your health plan, focusing on disease prevention based on your own particular risk factors such as age, health, medical history, and family history.
What does preventative care mean, exactly? Preventive services refer to measures taken to prevent disease from developing and to detect any disease at its early stage.
To aid in this goal, your health provider will ask you to fill out a Health Risk Assessment questionnaire. Your answers will help your physician design a personalized prevention plan that will help you to stay healthy and reduce your risk of developing disease.
What you can expect during your Annual Wellness Exam
Health Risk Assessment
- Behavioral risk factors: physical activity, nutrition, oral health, motor vehicle safety, sun exposure
- Biometric measures: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, overweight/obesity
- Psychosocial risk factors: depression, stress/anger, general well-being, social/emotional support, pain/fatigue
- Functional assessment: hearing impairment, activities of daily living, fall risk assessment, home safety
An update to your file, regarding current prescriptions and providers
- Who are your providers and suppliers of your medical care, and what are their specialties? For example: primary care physician (PCP), chiropractors, pharmacies, herbalists, physical therapists, mental health providers.
- What medications are you taking, in what doses, with what frequency, and why? This includes vitamins and supplements, too.
- Do you have any allergies to medicine, and if so—what is the reaction?
- Do you take doctor-recommended daily aspirin?
Medical history and family history review
- Health conditions, illnesses, and diseases you’ve had—and when
- Surgical history
- Family history of illness and disease: parents, siblings, children
- Social history: alcohol, tobacco, and drug use; sexual history
- A routine physical, including vital signs and measurements: height, weight, blood pressure
Cognitive impairment detection/screening
- Memory loss
- Mini cognitive test
Personalized information and health advice regarding your risk factors and treatment options—including a prevention plan
- A checklist of preventive services, screenings, shots, etc., with coverage details
- Advance Care Planning, if you want and accept it
Your annual exam is an important part of maintaining your health and doing all you can to prevent illness.
It’s important to note that if any non-preventative care occurs during your visit (for example, additional lab tests or X-rays), additional charges may apply, depending on your insurance coverage.
Medicare Covered Preventive Services
As of today, the preventive health services currently covered by Medicare Part B include:
- Immunizations (Influenza/flu, Pneumococcal, and Hepatitis B)
- Cancer screening
- Bone mass measurement
- Glaucoma screening
- Screening labs for diabetes and lipid panels
- Ultrasound screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)
- Diabetes self-management training
- Medical nutritional therapy
- Smoking cessation counseling
These screenings and services are available on a set schedule—not necessarily every year. At your visit, your medical providers will go over these services and schedules for you in detail.
What to Bring to Your Annual Medicare Wellness Exam
If you’ve scheduled a Medicare Wellness Exam at Alaska Family Medical Clinic, here’s what you’ll need to bring with you to the office on the day of your appointment:
- Your insurance card(s).
- Completed form(s). Anything our office, or Medicare, has mailed to you in advance of your appointment should be filled out before you arrive, if possible.
- Immunization records.
- Copies of advanced directives, if you have them.
Your Insurance Codes for Medicare Yearly Wellness Exams
When calling to schedule or discuss your wellness visit with our office or with your insurer(s), be sure to keep these codes handy:
- First Annual Wellness visit = G0438
- Subsequent Annual Wellness visits = G0439
Feel free to contact Family Medical Clinic in Soldotna, Alaska to schedule your Medicare Wellness Exam today. Call us at (907) 262-7566.