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Medicare Beneficiaries, Do You Know The Difference Between A Wellness Visit And A Physical?



A number of stories have recently appeared in the press about Medicare beneficiaries blindsided by charges for physical exams they expected to be free of charge. The cause: patients failed to understand the difference between a
physical exam
and Medicare’s free Annual Wellness Visit. Here’s what you
need to know to avoid surprise charges.
 

Twelve
months or more after enrolling in Plan B, you are entitled to a free Annual Wellness Visit. There is no co-pay and no deductible. However, this
is NOT a traditional head-to-toe physical exam. Basically, the Annual Wellness Visit is a screening. Its purpose is to create a baseline of your health status, document your health history, catch serious
health issues early on, and formulate a healthy lifestyle for you
going forward. 

What happens during your visit will depend on your age and other factors, but generally includes:

  • Screening
    for blood pressure, height and weight
  • Eyesight and
    hearing check
  • Listening to
    heart and lungs
  • Cognitive
    check
  • Discussion
    of health concerns, lifestyle, and appropriate schedule for normal additional screenings,
    vaccinations, etc.
  • Reviewing
    family health history
  • Documenting
    current prescriptions

Tip: When you call your doctor’s office to make an appointment for your wellness visit, be sure to refer to it as that: the annual wellness visit. Do not use the term “physical” unless you want a head-to-toe exam and are prepared to pay for it. Also, if discussions with your doctor during the wellness visit lead to his/her recommending additional tests or appointments, or you request them, there will be additional charges.



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