As many of you are aware Medicare now offers an Annual Wellness Visit as a benefit for all Medicare patients.
While we are pleased that more seniors will have access to basic preventive services and counseling, we also want you to understand that this “Wellness Visit” is not the same as a physical exam.
In the recent healthcare bill “The Affordable Care Act of 2010,” the government mandates the requirements for this new annual wellness visit. In general, the aim of this visit is to review a patient’s history, screen for common problems such as hearing loss and dementia, recommend age appropriate health screening, and counsel a patient regarding wellness and prevention. The only “physical” elements in this visit include basic vital signs and the performance of biannual breast/pelvic/pap smears in women and annual prostate exams in men. So for those of you who are used to getting annual physicals, this visit will be a very different experience.
Please understand that because of the strict guidelines regarding these visits and the time constraints with all the information that must be reviewed, your physician will not be able to address other issues on the day of your wellness visit. You will need a separate appointment to take care of new issues or issues related to management of chronic medical problems. Also, as a result of screening your physician may identify areas in which further evaluation is needed. For example if the annual wellness visit reveals an area of concern, then we will ask that you return for a separate visit to fully assess the degree of that problem and discuss treatment options with you at that later time.
Enclosed you will find several forms. Please fill them out completely to ensure that you get the most out of your visit and to help us to comply with all Medicare requirements. Also if you have had immunizations elsewhere please bring a record of all immunizations with you to your visit.
Thank you for your cooperation and we hope this visit’s focus on prevention will be a valuable service to you.