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Get Your Medicare Wellness Visit Every Year

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Content last updated on:
February 21, 2014

The Basics

If you have Medicare, be sure to schedule your yearly wellness visit with your doctor. The yearly wellness visit is a great tool to help you stay healthy.

What happens during a yearly wellness visit?
Before your visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you to answer some questions. This is called a health risk assessment. Your answers will help you and the doctor or nurse get the most from your yearly wellness visit.

During your visit, the doctor or nurse will:

  • Go over your health risk assessment with you
  • Measure your height and weight
  • Check your blood pressure
  • Give you advice to help you prevent disease, improve your health, and stay well

The doctor or nurse will give you a short written plan – like a checklist – to take home with you. This plan will include the screening tests and other preventive services that you will need over the next 5 to 10 years.

What about cost?
With Medicare Part B, you can get a wellness visit once a year at no cost to you. Check to make sure your doctor or nurse accepts Medicare when you schedule your appointment.

If you get additional tests or services that aren’t covered under the yearly wellness visit (like an extra blood test), you may have to use other insurance or pay out-of-pocket.

When can I go for a wellness visit?
You can get a wellness visit when:

  • You’ve had Medicare Part B for more than 12 months.
  • It’s been at least 12 months since your last wellness visit.

You don’t need to have a “Welcome to Medicare” visit before getting a yearly wellness visit. If you choose to get the “Welcome to Medicare” Preventive Visit during the first 12 months you have Medicare Part B, you’ll have to wait 12 months before you can get your first yearly wellness visit.

Learn more about the “Welcome to Medicare” and yearly wellness visits.

Who can get Medicare coverage?
Medicare is a federal health insurance program. You may be able to get Medicare if you:

  • Are age 65 or older
  • Are under age 65 and have a disability
  • Have end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure)

You must be living in the U.S. legally for at least 5 years to be eligible for Medicare. Find out more about eligibility for Medicare.

Take Action!

Take Action!

Take these steps to help you get the most out of your Medicare yearly wellness visit.

Schedule your Medicare yearly wellness visit.
Call your doctor’s office and ask to schedule your Medicare yearly wellness visit. Make sure it’s been at least 12 months since your last wellness visit.

If you are looking for a new doctor, check out these tips on choosing a doctor you can trust. To find a doctor who accepts Medicare:

Gather important information.
Take any medical records or information you have to the appointment. Include important information like:

  • Your name and birth date
  • The name and phone number of a friend or relative to call if there’s an emergency
  • Dates and results of checkups and screening tests
  • A list of shots you’ve received (and the dates you got them)
  • Medicines you take, how much you take, and why you take them (including over-the-counter medicines and vitamins)
  • Phone numbers and addresses of other places you go for health care, including your pharmacy
  • Any health conditions you have, including allergies

Make a list of any important changes in your life or health.
Your doctor or nurse will want to know about any big changes since your last visit. For example, write down things like:

  • Becoming unemployed
  • A death in the family
  • A serious illness or injury
  • Surgery

Know your family health history.
Your family's health history is an important part of your personal health record. Use this family health history tool to keep track of conditions that run in your family. Take this information to your yearly wellness visit.

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.
This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions related to:

  • A health condition
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Some important questions include:

  • Do I need any important shots?
  • How can I get more physical activity?
  • Am I at a healthy weight?
  • Do I need to make any changes to my eating habits?

Use this tool to make a list of questions for your doctor or nurse.

Don’t forget to write down the answers so you remember them later. You may also want to take a friend or relative with you for support.

Know what to expect from the yearly wellness visit.
The doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your health. Here are some questions the doctor or nurse may ask:

  • Do you have stairs in your home?
  • What do you do to keep active?
  • Have you lost interest in doing things you usually enjoy?
  • Do you have a hard time hearing people over the telephone?
  • What medicines, vitamins, or supplements do you take regularly?

The doctor or nurse will also:

  • Measure your height and weight
  • Check your blood pressure
  • Ask about your medical and family history

Make a wellness plan with your doctor.
During the yearly wellness visit, the doctor or nurse will give you a short written plan – like a checklist – to take home with you. This written plan will include a list of the screening tests and other preventive services you will need over the next 5 to 10 years.

Your plan may include getting important screenings for cancer or other diseases and making healthy changes, like getting more active.

Follow up after your visit.
During your yearly wellness visit, the doctor or nurse may recommend that you see a specialist or get certain tests. Try to schedule these follow-up appointments before you leave your wellness visit.

If that’s not possible, make a reminder note on your calendar to schedule your follow-up appointments.

Add any new health information to your records.
Make your next wellness visit easier by updating your medical information right away. Write down any shots you get and the results of screening tests.

Medicare offers online tools to help you track your medical information.

Take care of yourself all year long.
Based on the plan you make with your doctor or nurse, you will need to take action to stay healthy. Your plan may include:

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