No one can predict the future. You can’t know for sure what type of illnesses you might accumulate in life. However, Medicare has provided a way to help better prepare you for these types of possibilities by offering an Annual Wellness Visit (AWV).
Medicare’s Annual Wellness Visit is an appointment with your primary care provider that allows you and your doctor to create a personalized prevention health plan.
Based on different factors that we will discuss later, your doctor will put a plan together with goals to prevent possible future illnesses and conditions.
When and How Often Do I Get My AWV?
Upon joining Medicare, you will qualify for a one-time Welcome to Medicare physical.
Then, after you have had Medicare Part B for more than 12 months you are able to receive your first Annual Wellness Visit. This visit will be your Initial AWV and will establish your preventive health plan.
Once you have had your first wellness visit, you can have subsequent AWVs no more than once a year. These visits update your prevention plan to ensure that you and your doctor are aware of any medical changes.
What Does an AWV Include?
There is a number of things that you and your doctor will discuss at your first AWV. Each one is necessary for a complete prevention health plan to be created. You will want to answer honestly about your medical history as well as your family’s.
The first part of your AWV is the Health Risk Assessment (HRA). The HRA is a basic health questionnaire. Your doctor’s goal behind your HRA is to learn your health status and identify any issues that might affect your well-being.
When the assessment is complete, your doctor will also:
- Create a list of your doctors and suppliers
- Learn your medical history along with your family’s
- Review your risk factors for depression or other mood disorders
- Check your ability to perform activities
- Obtain measurements such as height and weight
- Evaluate your cognitive function
- Establish a personalized screening schedule for the following 5-10 years
- Discuss possible treatments for conditions and risk factors
- Discuss services and programs you can benefit from
- Consider future care decisions.
How Are Your Annual Wellness Visits Covered?
An Annual Wellness Visit is a preventive service. Therefore, Medicare Part B covers your AWV at 100%. You won’t have to pay a copay to have your AWV. You don’t have to worry about meeting your Part B deductible first before it’s covered either.
Your wellness visit is only covered if you aren’t within your first 12 months of Medicare Part B and if you haven’t had an AWV in the last 12 months.
You must receive your Annual Wellness Visit from one of the following people:
- Physician Assistant
- Nurse Practitioner
- Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Health Educator
- Registered Dietitian
- Nutrition Professional
- Other Licensed Practitioner
- Group of medical professionals directly supervised by a physician
Annual Wellness Visit vs Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visit
Some Medicare beneficiaries get their first Annual Wellness Visit confused with their Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visit and rightfully so. They are quite similar.
The Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visit is also known as the Initial Preventive Physical Examination (IPPE). This is where your doctor will get past and current medical information, make sure that you are current on all shots and screenings, and order other tests if needed.
Just like your Annual Wellness Visits, Medicare covers your Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visit 100%.
Medicare does not require you get an IPPE. However, if you would like to have the exam done you will need to do it within your first 12 months of being enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Medicare offers these free-of-charge preventive services so that your doctor is able to better care for you. When you provide your physician with this helpful information they will have a better understanding of what kind of medical future you might have.