Dear Marci, 

My sister just went to her doctor for an Annual Wellness Visit and recommended I do the same. I don’t think I’ve had this type of appointment before, though. What is it and what should I expect?  

-Douglas (Westminster, CO) 

Dear Douglas, 

The Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) is a yearly appointment with your primary care provider (PCP) to create or update a personalized prevention plan. This plan may help prevent illness based on your current health and risk factors. Keep in mind that the AWV is not a head-to-toe physical. Also, this service is similar to but separate from the one-time Welcome to Medicare preventive visit. 

During your first Annual Wellness Visit, your PCP will develop your personalized prevention plan. Your PCP may also: 

  • Check your height, weight, blood pressure, and other routine measurements 
  • Give you a health risk assessment 
  • Review your functional ability and level of safety 
  • Learn about your medical and family history 
  • Make a list of your current providers, durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers, and medications 
  • Create a written 5-10 year screening schedule or check-list 
  • Screen for cognitive impairment, including diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia 
  • Screen for depression 
  • Provide health advice and referrals to health education and/or preventive counseling services aimed at reducing identified risk factors and promoting wellness 

AWVs after your first visit may be different. At subsequent AWVs, your doctor should: 

  • Check your weight and blood pressure 
  • Update the health risk assessment you completed 
  • Update your medical and family history 
  • Update your list of current medical providers and suppliers 
  • Update your written screening schedule 
  • Screen for cognitive issues 
  • Provide health advice and referrals to health education and/or preventive counseling services 

Original Medicare covers the Annual Wellness Visit at 100% of the Medicare-approved amount when you receive the service from a participating provider. This means you pay nothing (no deductible or coinsurance). Medicare Advantage Plans are required to cover AWVs without applying deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance when you see an in-network provider and meet Medicare’s  requirements for the service. 

Contact your healthcare provider if you want to schedule your Annual Wellness Visit! 


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