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Annual wellness visit now free with Medicare

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, more than 150,000 seniors and others with Medicare Part B insurance in the United States have already had an annual wellness visit.

This is a preventative benefit now covered by Medicare free of charge.

"The annual wellness visit is not like your regular annual physical exam," said Carol Holtz, M.D., family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin.

"The purpose of the annual wellness exam is to review your health, provide you with education and counseling on preventative services you should receive, such as immunizations and screenings, and offer referral sources for other care if needed." she said. "There is more talking one-on-one and no real physical examination, but it’s truly worth your while to take advantage of this free exam if you have Medicare Part B coverage."

The annual wellness visit is performed by a registered nurse.


"A specially trained registered nurse at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin will meet with you for your annual wellness visit, ensuring your medical records are all up-to-date and to help you develop or update a personalized health care plan based on your current health and risk factors," Holtz said.

Other key points of the benefit include:

It’s easy to use.Just call your doctor when you sign up for Medicare. If you don't have a regular health care provider, visit mayoclinichealthsystem.org, click on Minnesota, Austin and Providers.

Sign upfor the visit during the first 12 months you have Medicare. After the first year, a yearly annual wellness visit is free.

It’s comprehensive.The visit includes a review of medical history and a review of preventive tests and screenings that could be needed to help plan for a healthy future.

During the visit, the registered nurse will:

• record and evaluate medical and family history, current health conditions and prescriptions.

• check blood pressure, vision, weight and height to get a baseline for care.


• make sure the patient is up-to-date with preventive screenings and services, such as cancer screenings and shots.

Depending on the patient's general health and medical history, further tests may be ordered upon consultation with a physician.

Following the visit, patients will receive education and a care plan that may include recommendations for further screenings and preventive services. Check with your Medicare coverage as additional screenings may not be covered.

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