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Get Your Medicare Wellness Visit Every Year

Checkups for Adults

Section #1 The Basics: Overview

If you have Medicare, be sure to schedule a yearly wellness visit with your doctor. A yearly wellness visit is a great way to help you stay healthy.

What happens during a yearly wellness visit?

The doctor or nurse will first ask you to fill out a questionnaire called a “health risk assessment.” Answering these questions will help you get the most from your yearly wellness visit.

During your visit, the doctor or nurse will:

  • Go over your health risk assessment with you
  • Measure your height and weight
  • Check your blood pressure
  • Ask about your medical and family history
  • Ask about other doctors you see and any medicines you take
  • Give advice to help you prevent disease, improve your health, and stay well
  • Look for any changes in your ability to think, learn, or remember

The doctor or nurse will give you a short, written plan – like a checklist – to take home with you. This plan will include any screening tests and other preventive services that you will need over the next 5 to 10 years. Preventive services are health care services that keep you from getting sick. 

Section #2 The Basics: Plan Your Visit

When can I go for a yearly wellness visit?

You can get a wellness visit when:

  • You’ve had Medicare Part B for more than 12 months.
  • It’s been at least 12 months since your last wellness visit.

Do I need to have a “Welcome to Medicare” visit first?

You don’t need to have a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit before getting a yearly wellness visit.

If you choose to get the “Welcome to Medicare” visit during the first 12 months you have Medicare Part B, you’ll have to wait 12 months before you can get your first yearly wellness visit. Learn more about the “Welcome to Medicare” and yearly wellness visits.

What about cost?

With Medicare Part B, you can get a wellness visit once a year at no cost to you. Check to make sure the doctor or nurse accepts Medicare when you schedule your appointment.

If you get any tests or services that aren’t included in the yearly wellness visit (like an extra blood test), you may have to pay some of those costs.

Section #3 The Basics: Who Can Get Medicare?

Who can get Medicare coverage?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program. You may be able to get Medicare if you:

  • Are age 65 or older
  • Are under age 65 and have a disability
  • Have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig's disease
  • Have end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure)

You must be living in the United States legally for at least 5 years to qualify for Medicare. Answer these questions to find out when you can sign up for Medicare.

Section #4 Take Action: Make an Appointment

Take these steps to help you get the most out of your Medicare yearly wellness visit.

Schedule your Medicare yearly wellness visit.

Call your doctor’s office and ask to schedule your Medicare yearly wellness visit. Make sure it’s been at least 12 months since your last wellness visit.

If you're looking for a new doctor, check out these tips on choosing a doctor you can trust. 

To find a doctor who accepts Medicare:

Section #5 Take Action: Get Ready

Gather important information.

Take any medical records or information you have to the appointment. Include important information like:

  • Your name and birth date
  • The name and phone number of a friend or relative to call if there’s an emergency
  • Dates and results of checkups and screening tests
  • A list of shots (vaccines) you’ve received – and the dates you got them
  • Medicines you take, how much you take, and why you take them (including over-the-counter medicines and vitamins)
  • Phone numbers and addresses of other places you go for health care, including your pharmacy
  • Any health conditions you have, including allergies

Make a list of any important changes in your life or health.

Your doctor or nurse will want to know about any big changes since your last visit. For example, write down things like:

  • Losing your job
  • A death in the family
  • A serious illness or injury
  • Surgery
  • A change in your living situation

Know your family health history.

Your family's health history is an important part of your personal health record. Use this family health history tool to keep track of conditions that run in your family. Take this information to your yearly wellness visit.

Section #6 Take Action: Ask Questions

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.

This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

  • A health condition
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, or supplements

Some important questions include:

  • Do I need to get any shots to protect my health?
  • How can I get more physical activity?
  • Am I at a healthy weight?
  • Do I need to make any changes to my eating habits?

Use this question builder tool to make a list of things to ask your doctor or nurse.

Don’t forget to write down the answers so you remember them later. You may also want to take a friend or relative with you for support.

Section #7 Take Action: What to Expect

Know what to expect at your visit.

The doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your health and safety, like:

  • Do you have stairs in your home?
  • What do you do to stay active?
  • Have you lost interest in doing things you usually enjoy?
  • Do you have a hard time hearing people on the phone?
  • What medicines, vitamins, or supplements do you take regularly?

The doctor or nurse will also:

  • Measure your height and weight
  • Check your blood pressure
  • Ask about your medical and family history
  • Look for any changes in your ability to think, learn, or remember

Section #8 Take Action: Follow Up

Make a wellness plan with your doctor.

During the yearly wellness visit, the doctor or nurse will give you a short, written plan – like a checklist – to take home with you. This written plan will include a list of preventive services you will need over the next 5 to 10 years.

Your plan may include:

Follow up after your visit.

During your yearly wellness visit, the doctor or nurse may recommend that you see a specialist or get certain tests. Try to schedule these follow-up appointments before you leave your wellness visit.

If that’s not possible, put a reminder note on your calendar to schedule your follow-up appointments.

Add any new health information to your records.

Make your next wellness visit easier by updating your medical information right away. Write down any shots you got and the results of any screening tests.

Medicare offers an online tool called MyMedicare to help you track your personal health information and Medicare claims. If you have your Medicare number, you can sign up for your MyMedicare account now.

Section #9 Take Action: Healthy Habits

Take care of yourself all year long.

After your visit, follow the plan you made with your doctor or nurse to stay healthy. Your plan may include:

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