Many people consider a yearly trip to the doctor as part of routine care, but many individuals skip this yearly assessment in an attempt to save a few bucks. Little do they know, many insurance policies, including Medicaid and Medicare, cover an Annual Wellness Visit once every 12 months (meaning 11 full months must have passed since your last visit). Therefore, there is no reason to be skipping your yearly wellness visit!
To help you understand better about what to expected during your Annual Wellness Visit and how to prepare, we have provided you with some helpful information.
What to expect:
The Annual Wellness Visit is a longer visit than most. The purpose of Annual Wellness Visits is to develop or update your personalized prevention plan. The visit includes:
- A health risk assessment (questions you answer about your health)
- A review of your medical and family history
- Developing or updating a list of your current providers and prescriptions
- Documenting your height, weight, blood pressure and other routine measurements
- Looking for signs of memory loss or dementia
- Personalized health advice just for you
- A list of risk factors and treatment options for you
- Review your immunization record
- A screening schedule (like a checklist) for the preventive services recommended for you
At the end of the visit, your primary care provider will give you a wellness plan that will include recommended tests, screenings, lifestyle changes, and more to help you stay healthy and prevent disease. This plan, will be based on your answers to the questions above.
What is not included:
During your visit, your primary care physician will check your blood pressure, height, and weight. They may also inform you of your body mass index (BMI) and make recommendations based on your results. However, it’s important to note that this visit does NOT include a physical exam and is NOT intended to be an appointment for diagnosis and detection of illnesses. Rather, this appointment should be viewed as a time to assess your overall health and wellness.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes a physical exam as studying the body to determine if there is or is not a physical problem. NIH goes on to say that it usually includes:
- Looking at the body (inspection)
- Feeling the body with fingers or hands (palpation)
- Listening to the body’s sounds (auscultation)
- Producing sounds, usually by tapping on areas of the body (percussion)
People also tend to use this time to ask about other preexisting conditions, however that is better left to a designated separate from your wellness visit. The purpose of the annual wellness visit is to focus on prevention. A brief discussion of existing or new medical problems is generally okay. If you have more to discuss, you should make a follow up appointment, which will give you and your provider more time to talk about your health.
The bottom line is that Annual Wellness Visits are important it benefits you and your doctor stay to take advantage of your covered yearly wellness visit. These visits are not a key part of staying on top of your health!