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How often should you see a doctor if you are a healthy older adult? It’s a question often asked, especially by those who suffer from “white coat syndrome.” The medical community uses this term to describe people who get anxious about physician appointments.
Experts say that while there’s no hard and fast rule on how often a healthy older adult needs to visit their doctor, at least once a year is usually a good idea.
Yearly Physician Visits and Seniors
An annual physical gives your physician an opportunity to discuss and schedule routine health screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Your doctor can also order bloodwork for cholesterol screening, diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and more.
Your doctor will also discuss important immunizations including a flu shot and the pneumonia and shingles vaccines.
Another important reason to schedule a yearly checkup, even if you feel great, is to allow your physician to identify small issues before they become big problems. Fatigue, for example, might seem like more of an annoyance than a serious health risk. But fatigue can be a symptom of sleep apnea. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to heart disease and strokes. It is even linked to higher rates of auto accidents.
Fortunately, most major health insurers and Medicare will pay for an annual wellness visit.
Take Advantage of the Medicare Wellness Visit
If you’ve been participating in Medicare Part B for at least one year, you are entitled to a Medicare Wellness Visit. This yearly appointment with your physician is designed to identify health risks and intervene early.
During the appointment, your doctor will review your medical history, medication list, and assess your body mass index.
The good news is your Medicare Part B deductible doesn’t apply to this visit. There is no charge, but there is a catch. Any follow-up screenings or tests your doctor orders may have a co-pay or a deductible. Talk with the billing specialist at your physician’s office if you have any questions about what charges to expect.
Get to Know the Medicare Benefit
If you are like many Medicare recipients, you might find your Medicare benefit more than a little confusing. Knowing what is—and isn’t—covered is sometimes difficult to understand.
Our article, “Understanding Your Medicare Benefits from A to D,” gives seniors a better awareness of what health care services are covered under each part of the benefit. From hospital care to hospice, you’ll find this information helpful.