What Is a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit? (video/podcast)

Note to patients: As of Jan. 1, 2024, Scripps Clinic and Scripps Coastal Medical Groups no longer accept Medicare Advantage HMO plans.

Not a physical exam, purpose is prevention and healthy aging

Not a physical exam, purpose is prevention and healthy aging

If you have a Medicare Part B or Medicare Advantage Plan, you’re eligible for a free wellness visit every year. This annual health assessment is intended to help you and your doctor develop or update your personalized care plan to help prevent disease or disability.

In this video, San Diego Health host Susan Taylor talks about Medicare wellness visits with Kaitlyn Bertrand, a physician assistant with the Scripps Annual Health Assessment Clinic.

What is a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit?

The Medicare Annual Wellness Visit focuses on prevention and healthy aging. While it doesn’t include a complete physical examination, your provider will measure your height, weight and blood pressure, and determine if you need any vaccinations or preventive screening exams, such as a mammogram, bone density test or colon cancer screening.

“Our plan is to develop a preventive care plan for the next five to 10 years,” says Bertrand. “We can look for any signs of early disease and prevent certain conditions from developing.”

You also may complete screening tests and questionnaires to determine your risk for developing memory problems, behavioral concerns, such as depression, or mobility issues that may affect your health or safety. For example, you may have a balance test to check your risk of falling.

You provider will also review your medical history and family history, and make sure information about your primary care provider and any specialists, such as cardiologists or dermatologists, is up to date.

“This is also an opportunity to review advanced care planning, which includes your end-of-life choices,” says Bertrand. “These can be hard topics, but if you have a major medical problem like a heart attack or a stroke, and you’re incapable of making that decision for yourself, it’s important to have that conversation ahead of time while you’re still healthy.”

Preparing for your Medicare Annual Wellness Visit

Before your Medicare Annual Wellness Visit, you will receive a series of questionnaires to answer either over the phone with a clinical staff member or through your MyScripps portal if you have one. It’s helpful to have an updated list of any medications or supplements you’re taking and any vaccines you've received outside of Scripps when you complete the questionnaire.

The Medicare Annual Wellness Visit only covers preventive care, so it’s important to know that if you discuss issues that are not covered, there may be an additional fee. Ask your provider if you aren’t sure what’s considered preventive care.

“If your primary care doctor is performing your Medicare Annual Wellness Visit and you have other health concerns you’d like to discuss, they may want to just have you back for a follow-up appointment,” says Bertrand. “If the assessment is being done at a Scripps Annual Health Assessment Clinic, we’re going to refer you back to your primary care doctor for follow-up.”

Scripps Annual Health Assessment Clinics are stand alone clinics offered by Scripps Health. Providers partner with primary care physicians to perform Medicare Annual Wellness Visits and other yearly health assessments.

Additionally, many patients can complete the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit as a video visit from the comfort of home. When you make an appointment, your care team specialist will determine if an in-person or video visit is right for you.

To schedule your Medicare Annual Wellness Visit at Scripps, you have several options:

You must have Medicare Part B or a Medicare Advantage plan to be eligible for a Medicare Wellness Visit.

“We really hope that all eligible patients take advantage of the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit as it is a free yearly service,” says Bertrand.

“At Scripps, we really want to be your partners in health care. When patients take advantage of this free assessment, they’re able to stay on top of their health care, identify any health risk factors, and complete those preventive screenings.”

Listen to the podcast on the benefits of a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit

Listen to the podcast on the benefits of a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit

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