Regular health check-ups are valuable tools for physicians. Your healthcare provider can use vital information gathered during a check-up to keep track of your current health condition, to evaluate your risk factors for future health problems, to create a care plan geared to keeping you healthy, and to inform you about healthy lifestyle choices.

Today, there are over 44 million Americans of all ages who have an annual physical, but many of us neglect a comprehensive yearly physical. Together with your primary healthcare provider, you should sit down and discuss your physical examination schedule.

Medicare offers an initial health exam when you are first enrolled in Medicare coverage and annual health care visits. If you are enrolled in Medicare Part B coverage, you will be eligible for an initial “Welcome to Medicare” visit. After that, your Medicare coverage includes yearly “wellness” visits. Here are the details about what to expect from these visits.

What is the “Welcome to Medicare” Examination?

If you sign up for Medicare Part B (medical insurance), you will be eligible for a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit. There is no cost for this exam as long as you visit a doctor as long as they accept assignment.  This initial welcome examination is a one-time visit that you can have anytime during the 12-month period following your Part B insurance start date.

The welcome check-up does not cost you anything, nor does the Part B deductible apply.  When you make your appointment for your “Welcome to Medicare” check-up, be sure to inform the provider’s office that this is the purpose of your visit.

Before your appointment, you should gather certain information to take with you. Take your medical and immunization records, a comprehensive account of your family health history, a list of any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you take, and a list of vitamins and supplements to your appointment. You should also let your physician know when, how often, and why you take these drugs and supplements.

During your visit, your health care provider will check your vital signs, including weight and height, blood pressure, and vision. They will also make sure that you all your preventive screenings and services are up to date. Depending on your health or family history, your physician may order further tests. The main purpose of the “Welcome to Medicare” visit is for your health care provider to create a personalized prevention plan for your health care needs.

Yearly Wellness Visit

Your Medicare Part B coverage includes preventive services, including an annual wellness visit. Once you have had Medicare Part B for 12 months, you are eligible for this annual check-up. It does not cost anything if the health care provider doing your exam accepts Medicare assignment. If you have additional tests or services that are not covered by your preventive benefits, you may be responsible for a coinsurance and Part B deductible costs.

The objective of the annual wellness visit is to gather and review information to update your personalized prevention plan and keep you on track for good health. It’s important to see your physician regularly so that any changes to your health or wellness can be addressed.

At your wellness check-up, your physician will check your height, weight, blood pressure, and any other necessary measurements, and evaluate you for cognitive impairment. Your physician will give you health advice based on your results, let you know what your risk factors are, and offer treatment options if you require them.

With Medicare Part B, you do not have any out-of-pocket expenses for your annual wellness visit unless you have tests done that are not covered. Without insurance, an annual physical can cost hundreds of dollars depending on what tests your doctor runs.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will have at least the same Pat A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare, so you will have access to the Welcome to Medicare visit and yearly wellness visits.

Related articles: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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