Understanding the “Welcome to Medicare” Physical Exam
During the first 12 months after enrolling in Part B, Medicare covers a one-time, preventative physical exam. This is known as the “Welcome to Medicare” exam. It includes a thorough checkup and health review. It also provides education and counseling on preventative services, such as screenings and vaccines, as well as referrals for additional care if needed.
No Cost for the “Welcome to Medicare” Physical Exam
You pay nothing out of pocket for the “Welcome to Medicare” preventative exam, provided your healthcare provider accepts the assignment. The Part B deductible does not apply to this visit. However, the deductible may apply, and you may have to pay co-insurance if your doctor provides other services or performs additional tests during the visit that are not covered under the preventative benefits, as stated on Medicare.gov.
What to Bring to Your “Welcome to Medicare” Exam
Bring your medical and immunization records with you. Also, take a list of your current prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, including dosage and frequency. Be prepared to discuss your personal and family health history with your doctor.
What to Expect During the Preventative Physical Exam
After taking a complete medical history, your doctor will:
Check your vision
Take your blood pressure
Measure your height and weight to determine body mass index
Your doctor will want to ensure you are up-to-date with immunizations and other preventative screenings and services. Depending on your medical history and any health conditions you may have, your doctor may order further diagnostic tests.
You will also receive medical advice on how to stay well, prevent disease, and improve your health. You will leave the office with a written plan to tell you what screenings and preventative services you should have in the future.
Doctor Assistance with Advance Directives
Your doctor will offer to talk with you about creating advance directives. These are documents that state how you want medical decisions to be made if you are ill and unable to speak for yourself. Types of advance directives include:
Health care proxy: Also known as a durable power of attorney, this document names someone else to make health decisions for you if you are unable.
Living will: This document states the types of treatment you want or do not want in case of a life-threatening illness or injury. It allows you to express your wishes regarding resuscitation, breathing machines, feeding tubes, dialysis, and donating organs or tissue after your death.
During your “Welcome to Medicare” visit, you can request assistance from your doctor with one or more advance directives.
What to Do if You Have Been Enrolled in Medicare for More Than 12 Months
The “Welcome to Medicare” preventative exam is only available during the first 12 months after you enroll in Medicare Part B. If it has been more than 12 months, you can go for your annual “Wellness” exam instead. This visit, which is also covered by Medicare, allows your doctor to develop a personalized health plan for you.
If you have questions about Medicare, our friendly agent is happy to help.