The Star-Herald

Medicare Annual Wellness Visits are a free, valuable opportunity for maintaining your health and well-being

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A Medicare Annual Wellness Visit is a preventive exam involving a person’s health, safety and well-being. It’s a valuable, free resource that eligible community members are encouraged to take advantage of.

“When someone transitions to Medicare, whether it be due to age or disability, they may have more health issues to be addressed, which is what your provider appointments concentrate on,” explains Ruth Hanson, manager of clinical operations at Northern Light AR Gould Hospital. “While other appointments are handling chronic health concerns, an Annual Wellness Visit is all about preventive care. The cost is covered entirely by Medicare, which is a testament to the importance of this visit.”

The Medicare Annual Wellness Visit gives patients the time they need to sit and talk with someone. “Instead of focusing on a specific ailment or injury, we have time for more comprehensive discussions. We can delve into the nooks and crannies to get the bigger picture of what is happening with them,” Hanson says. 

The visit includes reviewing a patient’s family health history; managing medications; and screenings for issues such as depression, food insecurity, and in-home safety. During the visit, a personal preventive health plan is created, including time frames for various tests and screenings. Patients can get referrals for follow up care if needed and be connected to valuable resources in the community.

According to Hanson, the first wellness visit is an important baseline which is then followed up on annually to see how things are changing from year to year, establishing a pattern that helps the care team be able to better see a patient’s needs. The visit may take place with a provider, a registered nurse or a pharmacist. It can be completed in person or via telehealth. 

Those on Medicare are encouraged to contact their primary care provider to see if they qualify for a free Medicare Annual Wellness Visit and to set up an appointment.

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