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  • Medicare Annual Wellness Visit 101

    January 8, 2018

    About the Author: Anil Patel, MD, Board Certified in Family Practice for over 25 years

     What is the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit?

    For more than 40 years Medicare has provided seniors and people with disabilities with health coverage. That health coverage has been concentrated on treating conditions and diseases but has not focused on prevention and keeping people healthy in the first place.

    Since 2010 there is an added new benefit to Medicare recipients called an Annual Wellness Visit (AWV).  The AWV puts new emphasis on preventive services and wellness care without the added cost of deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments.

    During this visit, you can work with your primary care provider to develop a personalized prevention plan (PPP). This PPP is a written strategy developed with you to help you manage your health, including planning the preventive services and screenings you may need over the next 5 to 10 years.  The plan will help you to take advantage of Medicare’s preventive services, many with no cost-sharing.

    What the Medicare AWV is not:

    • The AWV is not a physical examination nor is it meant to replace a physical examination.
    • The AWV does not include a hands-on examination.
    • The AWV is not a “sick visit” to address any current medical problems, conditions or medications.
    • The AWV does not include medication management, vaccinations, diagnostic testing, or lab work.

    You will likely need to schedule another visit to address those issues. Although these services are important to your overall health, they are beyond the intended scope of the AWV. IF your provider includes these additional services, they charged and covered according to Medicare’s usual coverage guidelines and you may incur cost-sharing in the form of copays, deductibles, or copayments. 

    Why should I bother to have an AWV?

    You don’t have to be sick to see your provider!

    • The AWV provides an excellent opportunity for you to talk with your provider about your overall health concerns. Even if you are not sick!
    • The AWV can reveal problems that your provider was not aware of; things like depression or an increased risk of falling.
    • During the AWV, your provider will be able to discuss personalized health advice that takes into account your risk factors and specific health needs including weight loss, physical activity, smoking cessation, fall prevention, and nutrition.
    • You can discuss referrals to health education resources or preventive counselling that may help minimize potential health risks.

    These are things that are not typically addressed during a routine visit to the doctor!

    What’s included in an AWV?

    • Routine measurements such as height, weight, blood pressure, and body-mass index
    • Review of medical and family history
    • Establishing a list of current providers, suppliers, and medications
    • A personal risk assessment (including any mental health conditions)
    • A review of your functional ability and level of safety
    • A detection of any cognitive impairment
    • Screening for depression
    • Establishing a schedule for Medicare’s screening and preventive services you qualify for over the next 5 to 10 years.
    • Other advice or referral services that may help intervene and treat potential health risks
    • Voluntary advanced care planning

    When can I schedule my Medicare AWV?

    You may receive your AWV after you have been with Medicare for more than one year, or it has been at least one year since your “Welcome to Medicare” exam. Call today to schedule an appointment at: 269-273-9062.