7 common questions about Medicare Annual Wellness Visits
8/8/2023 by Robert Stroebel, M.D.
Medicare Annual Wellness Visits are a preventive health benefit available after having Medicare Part B coverage for at least one year. All Medicare Advantage Plans are required to offer Annual Wellness Visits for their members. A nurse or nurse practitioner reviews your health status and helps you plan for health and wellness needs.
In most cases, the Annual Wellness Visit will be followed by a separate medical visit with your primary care clinician to close any healthcare gaps and address any problems identified during the visit.
Here are answers to seven common questions about Annual Wellness Visits:
Why are Annual Wellness Visits important?
The Annual Wellness Visit allows you to review your health history and identify any current or potential health risks with a healthcare professional. The Annual Wellness Visit enables the nurse to focus on prevention and wellness while making sure you are up to date on recommended immunizations and health screenings like colonoscopies or mammograms.
This allows your primary care clinician more time to focus on your medical concerns and needs at a separate physical exam.
How often can I have an Annual Wellness Visit?
During your second year of Medicare Part B coverage and every year after, you may have one Annual Wellness Visit per year. The visit must be at least 365 days — one full year — after your previous year's visit.
Do I need to be 65 or older to have an Annual Wellness Visit?
You do not need to be 65 years of age or older to qualify for an Annual Wellness Visit, as long as you've been on Medicare Part B for at least one year.
How is an Annual Wellness Visit scheduled?
If you are due for an Annual Wellness Visit, you may be prompted to self-schedule the visit in the patient portal. You also may call your care team and ask to be scheduled for an Annual Wellness Visit.
If your Annual Wellness Visit is with a nurse or nurse practitioner, it is recommended to schedule this visit before the visit with your primary care clinician. This allows your clinician the chance to address any concerns mentioned during your Annual Wellness Visit.
How can I prepare for my Annual Wellness Visit?
You may be asked to complete some questionnaires before arriving for your appointment. The questionnaires will be sent to your patient portal account. If you cannot access the questionnaires before the appointment, plan to arrive at your appointment early to complete them.
It is helpful to come prepared to your Annual Wellness Visit with this information:
- All prescription medications, vitamins and supplements you take, including how much and how often you take them.
- Additional medical records, including immunization records.
- Dates of your most recent preventive services, like a colonoscopy or mammogram, if completed by another healthcare facility.
- Family health history, with as much detail as possible.
- List of medical providers and suppliers who provide you care, equipment or services.
What can you expect during an Annual Wellness Visit?
During the Annual Wellness Visit, you will meet with a nurse or nurse practitioner to:
- Evaluate your fall risk.
- Measure your height, weight and blood pressure.
- Offer referrals to other health education or preventive services.
- Provide information related to voluntary advance care planning.
- Screen for cognitive impairments like dementia.
- Screen for depression.
- Update your medical and family history.
What is the cost of an Annual Wellness Visit?
Medicare offers the Annual Wellness Visit at no cost for people who have Medicare Part B coverage for at least one year before the visit. If you are referred for other tests or services, they will be billed to your insurance. If you have a separate visit with your primary care professional following your Annual Wellness Visit, you or your insurance carrier will be responsible for the cost of that visit.
Robert Stroebel, M.D., is a Community Internal Medicine, Geriatric and Palliative Care physician in Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson.