DocTalk with Naomi Belayneh, ARNP, Senior Care Clinic, Valley Medical Center
Who should have a wellness visit and why is it needed?
Anyone who has Medicare Part B or Medicare supplemental insurance should consider getting a yearly wellness visit.
The yearly wellness visit is an opportunity to have a face-to-face discussion with your primary care provider focusing on prevention, routinely recommended screenings, and your overall wellness. Many people put off preventive care and checkups regarding their own personal health, but don’t think twice about scheduling routine maintenance for things like their vehicle. The annual wellness visit is similar to regular vehicle maintenance visits where a focused checklist is used to screen for problems with your vehicle even though the car may seem to be running smoothly. Just as fluid level checks and an oil change are recommended for preventive car maintenance, preventive services and screenings, like immunizations and blood pressure checks, are recommended for our health purposes as well.
What is included in the wellness visit?
A wellness visit includes screening for occasionally undetected problems such as elevated blood pressure, blood vessel problems, memory issues, fall risk, anxiety, and functional safety issues—examples could be hearing problems, home safety, mobility, and things making it hard for you to take care of yourself. Your medication and health issues list will be updated, if appropriate, along with your current care team members, to help coordinate your care. Your provider will also discuss routine preventive care screening such as breast or colon cancer, vascular screenings, and immunizations. Advanced directives may also be discussed to find any changes in condition, goals and wishes. If appropriate, a focused physical exam might be performed based on your individual health and prevention needs.
Is an annual wellness visit a covered Medicare benefit?
Yes, it is a covered Medicare benefit done once a year without out-of-pocket expenses. A copay or deductible may apply if specific medical issues need to be evaluated or addressed during this visit.
Can you do the wellness visit via a telehealth appointment?
Yes. At Valley, the wellness visit can be done during a telehealth appointment using Zoom on your electronic device through MyChart or, if needed, by a telephone call.
What recommendations do you have to help patients prepare for and get the most out of their wellness visit?
To prepare for a wellness visit, it is helpful to have a list of your current medications, names of the specialists who you are seeing, any update on your durable healthcare power of attorney and living will, and any health concerns that you want to bring to your provider’s attention.
Where can patients get their wellness visit done?
You can call and schedule a wellness visit with your primary care provider. If you don’t have a primary care provider yet, you can find one at valleymed.org/Primary-Care/.