Many seniors do not get the preventive and wellness services they should to stay healthy and independent at home. To help bridge this gap, Medicare has started covering an annual wellness visit with your primary care physician, as long as you have been enrolled in benefits for one year. The visit is completely free with no out-of-pocket costs when you visit an in-network provider.

Are annual visits to your doctor necessary?

The annual visit is different from the Welcome to Medicare physical exam, because is meant to help you develop a personalized health plan with your physician, which can include:

  • Routine measurements of your height, weight, blood pressure and body mass index
  • A recap of your recent medical treatment and family history
  • A checkup on your medications or any vitamins and supplements you take
  • A review of your physical ability to determine any risks, such as trouble with balance or falls
  • Evaluation of your emotional and mental health, with referrals to other health education or preventive counseling services
  • A schedule for preventive services like vaccinations or screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol or cancer, over the next five to 10 years

These visits can save you money in expensive treatments down the line, and can even be life-saving. It’s important to understand that this benefit does not cover subsequent healthcare, so you need to be sure you fully understand any concerns your physician identifies during the annual wellness visit.

If your physician identifies any needs during your annual wellness visit, and you meet certain guidelines, you can be referred to home health to receive nursing care at home rather than leaving your house.  

For example, many people struggle with managing multiple chronic conditions or preventing falls. The home health team can work with your primary care physician to develop a plan to help you take control of your treatment, prevent future declines in our health, learn about your condition and manage your medications.

To receive home health services, your doctor must determine that you are homebound, meaning one of three things. First, you could be unable to leave home without the help of assistive devices like crutches, a walker or a wheelchair. Or, you could be able to leave home for a short time only, but it is physically taxing. And lastly, if leaving home could cause your health to worsen.

Schedule your wellness visit for 2019 now, and be sure to alert your physician to any concerns you have about your health.

If you’ve discussed home health with your physician, and you’re still not sure whether you or your loved one is eligible for services, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can answer questions related to home health, rehabilitation and care following a hospital stay.

By Blair Klayko