When you go on Medicare, you have the opportunity, within the first 12 months, to have a Welcome to Medicare physical. Although many do not know about this or take advantage of it, it is important and completely covered by Medicare. So, what is the Welcome to Medicare physical and what is included?
First of all, let’s discuss who “gets” the Welcome to Medicare physical. It is available to anyone who is just going on Medicare for the first time – it’s available within the first 12 months of your Medicare Part B enrollment. It is wise to schedule your Welcome to Medicare physical right away after you start Part B. Keep in mind that this visit is fully covered by Medicare, as long as scheduled during that 12 month timeframe.
If it has been more than 12 months since you started Part B, don’t worry, you can still have a preventive care visit through Medicare’s annual wellness visits. This is another way to accomplish to same thing that the Welcome to Medicare visit does.
The Welcome to Medicare visit is designed to establish a baseline for your medical care on Medicare. During this visit, your doctor will record your medical history and checking things like weight/height/BMI, blood pressure, and vision. Your doctor will also updated any needed screenings or shots you need and make recommendations for future medical services/testing that you may need.
During this visit, your doctor will likely also discuss advance directives with you. Advance directives are legal documents that establish what kind of care you would want to receive if/when you are unable to speak for yourself.
What Is Not Covered in the Welcome to Medicare Physical?
In the past, some Medicare beneficiaries have said that the word “physical” is a misnomer for the welcome to Medicare visit. This may be true, as this visit is not as comprehensive as some people may want. It does not include/cover bloodwork, labwork or more advance testing. You can, of course, include these things, but it will not be a part of the “fully covered” part of the visit. That said, if you have Medicare plus a Medigap plan, your costs for those things would be limited or non-existent anyway.
Additionally, other preventive screenings that you may want would typically need to be scheduled separately. Medicare does cover most preventive care now, though, so this is definitely advisable.
What Should I Take to My Welcome to Medicare Physical?
So, you have your Welcome to Medicare physical scheduled. What do you need to take to it? Well, first and foremost, take your new red, white and blue Medicare card. You should ensure you have this with you any time you go to the doctor or hospital.
Also, you should take up to date medical records, including any immunization records. Additionally, take a list of your current prescription and over-the-counter medications in case your doctor does not have that list readily available.
Part of the visit will be a discussion about your risk factors, so you should also come prepared to discuss any relevant family medical history or current health/lifestyle factors that may impact your current care plan or future needs.
Overall, the Welcome to Medicare visit can be a useful tool in keeping you healthy moving forward. Obviously, it is no replacement to exercise, healthy eating, etc. But it is a good start and a good way for your doctor to get a baseline on what your current health needs are, enabling him or her to better serve you once you are on Medicare.
If you have any questions about the Welcome to Medicare physical, or anything else regarding Medicare or Medigap plans, you can contact us to get more information or call us at 877.506.3378.