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What to Expect at Your Medicare Annual Wellness Visit

Your plan covers a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit (AWV). This appointment with your primary care physician looks at your health risks and focuses on preventing illness and disease.

“The Medicare annual wellness visit makes sure all your needs are addressed. Whether it’s screening for preventive tests or making sure you are vaccinated correctly,” says James Solava, DO, primary care physician with Allegheny Health Network. “Physicians devote extra time to these wellness visits. It’s your chance to discuss any issues, plan for prevention and identify risks.”

What to expect during your Medicare wellness exam

Your Medicare wellness exam is a simple conversation with your doctor. You’ll review your health and talk about a personalized prevention plan. “The Medicare wellness exam isn’t a full physical exam,” Dr. Solava says. “The purpose of the visit is to prevent conditions we look for in people over 65.”

Your physician will conduct routine measurements, such as height, weight and blood pressure. Your doctor will address health issues such as shortness of breath or chest pain and perform additional physical exams. You may be charged for extra medical care If your physician adds a service or attends to a serious issue.

If your doctor decides it’s in your best interest, the visit may include:

Referral for screenings

Your doctor will review disease screenings for your age and may refer you to a specialist for testing. “Screenings for this age group detect conditions early and prevent problems from happening,” Dr. Solava says. Men and women aged 65 and older may undergo screenings for:

  • Colon cancer (colonoscopy)
  • Breast cancer (mammogram)
  • Prostate cancer (digital rectal exam or PSA blood test)
  • Osteoporosis (bone density scan)

Medication review

Dr. Solava suggests you bring all your medications and supplements to your well visit. That way your physician can thoroughly review the medication you take on a regular basis. The medication evaluation may include:

  • Checking expiration dates
  • Reviewing all medications for possible drug interactions
  • Setting up medication refills
  • Updating the list of medications in your medical records

Vaccine check

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends specific vaccines for people 65 and older. Your doctor will review the vaccines you’ve received and may suggest some new ones. Keep in mind that any added service may result in additional costs.:

Preventative health assessments

Your physician will evaluate you for health issues that most often affect older adults. “Addressing these issues helps limit your risk and improve your quality of life,” Dr. Solava says. “Screenings can help us get you the services you need, such as counseling, physical therapy or occupational therapy.” Your physician may screen you for:

  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Fall risk
  • Memory loss
  • Mobility issues
  • Tobacco and alcohol use
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vision issues

Discussion about advance care planning

Your physician may talk to you about advance care planning. Especially if you need health care and are unable to speak for yourself. During your AWV, your doctor answers your questions and lays out the next steps to take. “Being prepared takes burden off of you and your family if something were to happen,” Dr. Solava says. If you already have a documented plan in place, bring it to your AWV so your physician can add it your medical record.

Questions to determine the need for social services

Your physician may also ask questions to determine how social services might benefit your health. If you’re struggling with issues related to food, housing, or finances, this assessment may provide resources that can address your needs. “We’re trying to address these issues and offer our help,” Dr. Solava says. “The goal is to keep you healthy, and these issues can directly affect your health.”

Get ready with a Medicare annual wellness visit checklist

A Medicare annual wellness visit checklist can help get you organized before your exam. According to Dr. Solava, “It’s important to bring your actual prescription medication bottles to the visit. A written medication list might be outdated or incomplete. The bottles have all the information we need.” If you are new to this primary care provider, Dr. Solava suggests you also bring:

  • Family history
  • Vaccination history
  • Personal history
  • Surgical history

Highmark understands Medicare coverage

To enroll in Medicare or learn more about how Medicare keeps you healthy, schedule a personal consultation with a Highmark insurance agent or call 833-976-4615 (TTY/TDD users may call 711). Medicare product experts are available by phone from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., seven days a week.

Get a checkup on health with a Medicare annual wellness visit

A Medicare annual wellness visit with your primary care physician focuses on preventing illness and disease, while assessing your health risks. It includes preventive screening tests and making sure you’re vaccinated.