CHN Health Matters

Medicare Wellness Exam

If you are not a Medicare patient this information and discussion may not be of interest to you. But if you are a Medicare patient, I am going to try to explain what I know about the wellness exams that Medicare offers. 

This has been confusing to me and I think it is confusing to patients also. The federal government, who runs Medicare, has come up with a policy that offers “wellness” visits at no cost. The problem for patients and providers is defining what a wellness visit is.

Most people consider this visit a “physical.” Traditionally a physical has included an actual head to toe examination along with screenings for problems like high blood pressure, cancers, cholesterol, and diabetes along with addressing medical problems and updating immunizations.  

However, Medicare has established their own specific guidelines for what they consider a “wellness” visit to be. It is modeled after the concept of a Health Risk Assessment (HRA), which has been discussed in a previous article.

During the first year of Medicare coverage a “Welcome to Medicare” visit would be offered. Thereafter, a yearly “subsequent wellness visit” would be offered. If the “welcome to Medicare” visit is not done the first year, an “initial” visit can be done at a later time.

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