Leverage Your “Welcome to Medicare” Visit

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This article was updated on February 11, 2021.

Did you know that every new Medicare beneficiary gets a one-time welcome preventive visit with a doctor?

Your “Welcome to Medicare” visit is an important benefit in which you can discuss any problems with your doctor and go over your medical history. Everyone enrolled in Medicare Part B has access to this free visit within the first 12 months of enrolling in Medicare.

The welcome visit offers time to spend with your doctor to go over any questions you may have and to be screened for various potential health problems. Make sure to come with questions ready and with your medical history handy. This is a time to tell your doctor about any problems, large or small, that you have been experiencing. You and your doctor will set up a written plan for your health and even talk about advance directives should your health decline.

What happens at the visit?

The “Welcome to Medicare” visit includes such things as:

  • Certain screenings, flu, and pneumococcal shots, and referrals for other care, if needed.
  • Height, weight, and blood pressure measurements.
  • A calculation of your body mass index.
  • A simple vision test.
  • A review of your potential risk for depression and your level of safety.
  • An offer to talk with you about creating advance directives.
  • A written plan letting you know which screenings, shots, and other preventive services you need.
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What do I need to bring?

For the “Welcome to Medicare” visit, be sure to bring:

  • Your medical records
  • Your immunization records
  • Your family health history
  • A list of prescriptions and other medications you are taking, including how often you take them and for what reason
  • Any other important information about your health

Yearly “Wellness” exams

In addition to the “Welcome to Medicare” visit, Medicare beneficiaries also have access to a Yearly “Wellness” exam. during which you can address any new issues with your doctor. During your visit, your doctor should provide a cognitive impairment assessment and create a personalized prevention plan.

A cognitive impairment assessment is performed to look for signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and check for depression and other mood disorders. Your provider may order other tests, if necessary, depending on your general health and medical history.

The personalized prevention plan is designed to help prevent disease and disability based on your current health and risk factors. Your provider will ask you to fill out a questionnaire, called a “Health Risk Assessment,” as part of this visit.

Before your visit, be sure to have this information with you before your visit:

  • An updated list of current providers and prescriptions.
  • Height, weight, blood pressure, and other routine measurements.
  • Previous detection of any cognitive impairment results.
  • Previous personalized health advice.
  • A list of risk factors and treatment options for you.
  • Previous screening records. Get details about coverage for screenings, shots, and other preventive services.
  • Additional advanced care planning.
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