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Take a Minute for Medicare

We are continuing the discussion on Medicare Preventive Services this month. There are two services that are covered by Medicare that are preventive in scope and are free. These are the Welcome to Medicare visit and the Annual Wellness Check.

The Welcome to Medicare visit is designed to look at your health needs and create a preventive service plan or checklist to keep you healthy. Medicare covers this one-time, initial examination within the first 12 months you enroll in Medicare Part B. All people new to Medicare qualify for this visit. The Welcome to Medicare visit includes:

• Review of your medical and social history.
• Review of the potential for depression and other mental health conditions.
• Review of your ability to function safely in the home and community.
• Check of your height, weight, blood pressure, body mass index, and vision.
• Education, counseling, and referrals related to your risk factors.
• Education, counseling, and referrals related to other preventive services covered by Medicare.
• Discussions about health care advance directives.

The Annual Wellness Visit is a Medicare-covered yearly appointment for those enrolled in Part B during which you discuss your plan of preventive care for the coming year with your health care provider. The Annual Wellness Visit is similar to the one-time Welcome to Medicare visit but continues to examine your health and update your preventive care plan. Like the Welcome to Medicare visit, the Annual Wellness Visit is not a head-to-toe physical. You cannot receive your Annual Wellness Visit within the first year you are enrolled in Medicare or within the same year you have your Welcome to Medicare exam.

As part of the Annual Wellness Visit, your provider may:

• Update your health-risk assessment.
• Update your medical and family history.
• Check your weight and blood pressure.
• Update your list of current medical providers and suppliers.
• Screen for cognitive issues.
• Update your written screening schedule from previous wellness visits.
• Update your list of risk factors and conditions and the care you are receiving or that is recommended.
• Provide health advice and referrals to health education or preventive counseling services or programs.

If your doctor identifies a health issue during your preventive care visit and needs to provide care to address it, you may be responsible for certain costs, such as the Part B deductible and coinsurance. For general Medicare questions, call DRW at 1-800-928-8778. For Medicare Part D questions, call the Disability Drug Benefit Helpline at 1-800-926-4862. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or visit www.medicare.gov to find out if Medicare covers your test, service, or item.