What is the Medicare Wellness Visit, and How Much Does it Cost?

Sunrise Senior Living  |  September 21, 2017
what is the medicare wellness visit and how much does it cost
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You may have noticed that healthcare laws have changed a lot over past several years. 

For seniors, one of the biggest changes has been the welcome addition of the Medicare Wellness Visit.

If you’re not sure what a Medicare Wellness Visit entails or how much it costs, you’re not alone. The new benefit is open to everyone who receives Medicare, but there is still much confusion about what it entails.

Here are the basic facts.

The Medicare Wellness Visit is Not a Typical Physical Exam

The Medicare Wellness Visit is not a physical exam. This is where most people get confused. What’s actually covered in the wellness visit may not match your expectations. That’s because most people are expecting a routine physical.

Most of us believe an annual trip to the doctor is part of routine care. We call it a ‘physical exam” and expect the doctor to check for physical problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, that’s absolutely correct.

A physical exam includes:

●       Inspection: Looking at the body to determine presence of problems

●       Palpation: Using the hands to feel parts of the body to detect physical problems

●       Auscultation: Listening to sounds of the body

●       Percussion: Tapping parts of the body to produce sounds that give clues about health

Unlike a physical exam, however, the Medicare Wellness Visit can be completed without the patient removing any clothing. The goal of the visit is for both you and your doctor to stay on top of your health, including talking about your medical history and planning future medical care.

What to Expect During a Medicare Wellness Visit

During your visit, the physician will typically:

●       Review your medical history

●       Assess lifestyle and health risks

●       Review a list of all your healthcare providers

●       Create a list of all medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter medications

●       Develop a schedule for health screenings you will need in the coming years

You and your doctor may also address important senior wellness topics.

This conversation might include a discussion about how well you’re doing with the Activities of Daily Living (ADL), such as dressing, walking, and bathing. You may even touch upon subjects like handling finances and keeping up with housekeeping.

Medicare Wellness Visits are for Checking Mental Health, Too

Your doctor may assess your risk for depression and for cognitive impairment during this visit.

For a full list of what’s involved, visit the Medicare Learning Network .

Initial Medicare Wellness Visit vs. Annual Wellness Visit

After enrolling in Medicare, your first wellness visit is called the “Welcome to Medicare Visit.” After your initial welcome visit, you are eligible to have an annual wellness visit once every 12 months.

How Much do Wellness Visits Cost?

Both the “Welcome to Medicare Visit” and the annual “Medicare Wellness Visit” is covered in full by Medicare. You do not pay a copayment.

Some seniors are surprised to find they are billed for their annual Medicare exam. That may occur if you schedule a traditional ‘physical exam’ instead of asking for the Medicare Wellness Visit. So make it clear what you are interested in when you call to set up your appointment.

The Sunrise Senior Living Team Supports Wellness

The healthcare changes that brought about the Medicare Wellness Visit are geared towards helping seniors maintain healthy lives. Medicare’s emphasis on prevention and whole-person wellness is truly an encouraging development. It’s an approach to wellness that we wholeheartedly support here at Sunrise Senior Living.

In our communities, you’ll find wellness comes in many forms.

●       focusing on the needs of each individual resident with personalized care

●       offering  meaningful activities that enrich lives

●       helping residents find balance and joy

If you’d like to know more about the Sunrise approach to wellness, visit us online to learn about our signature ‘Live With Purpose’ programming