The Importance of Scheduling Your Annual Wellness Exam During a Pandemic

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Wellness exam vs. regular follow-up appointment

For people over 65 years old who have Medicare Part B for 12 months, Medicare allows for an annual wellness visit once every 12 months. The good news is that this is completely free of charge to Medicare beneficiaries. 

The Medicare annual wellness visit differs from a regular follow-up appointment for chronic medical conditions. This visit is fully focused on health risk and prevention. As a result of changes to Medicare since the pandemic, your doctor or health care provider can even do it as a telemedicine video visit.

The focus of this visit is on preventive care and health, which includes:

  • Address any health issues you may have 
  • Review of your medical and family history
  • Develop or update a list of current providers and prescriptions
  • Take Height, weight, blood pressure, and other routine measurements
  • Detect any cognitive impairment
  • Personalize health advice
  • Assess of risk factors and treatment options
  • Advance care planning
  • Schedule or create a checklist for appropriate preventive services, such as screenings and vaccines

Fewer seniors seeing their doctors

Out of fear of catching COVID-19, older people have stopped seeing their doctors, and standard clinical care for their chronic medical conditions and preventive care was postponed.

National surveys and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CMS) have shown that nearly a third of U.S. adults reported delaying routine care because of the pandemic from March to July 2020. In addition, Harvard School of Public Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and NPR found that one in five U.S. households had trouble getting medical care when they needed it during the coronavirus outbreak. Reasons for prolonging getting medical help were the challenges of making an appointment or fear of catching the disease while at the doctor. 

Importance of preventive care

There is more to be done for seniors to protect themselves against COVID-19 other than getting their vaccination. Preventive care is an important piece of health care, in maintaining the patient’s other medical conditions and goals of care. Preventive screening in older adults should be based on a personalized prevention plan between the patient and their doctor. Preventive screenings ideally identify issues before problems occur such as living alone, memory loss, any sort of fall, and who is around to help out when needed.

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Take care of yourself & loved ones

Got your vaccination? Great! Now, call your doctor or health care provider today to schedule an appointment, and ask whether you are eligible to schedule a Medicare annual wellness visit. As the nation begins to move past the highest case numbers and mortality of the COVID-19 era, the health care system and patients need to focus on optimizing health. 

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