Medicare Wellness Exams

Medicare Wellness Exams vs. Annual Physicals

As we age, the priorities of our health care change, too.

When patients — even very healthy ones — get to late 60s and beyond, they need to discuss more with their medical team than just screenings. 

Today, the medical community realizes that planning ahead can help manage Medicare patients’ potential concerns, including hearing and vision loss, depression and progression of chronic disease. This can make a key difference in staying healthy longer.

It’s important for people to set their priorities as they age to maximize both quality and quantity of life. This discussion can be kicked off at the “Welcome to Medicare” visit available during the first year you are enrolled in Medicare, or at an annual wellness visit. If you’re of Medicare age, don’t hesitate to call for your appointment, which can be conducted in-person. Similarly, if you have parents or loved ones on Medicare, it is important to encourage them to schedule their appointment.

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If you have not signed up for Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B for medical insurance coverage, please visit Original Medicare (Part A and B) Eligibility and Enrollment on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services site.

If you need assistance, please contact MetroHealth’s Financial Eligibility Team at 216-957-2325.

Medicare Wellness Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Welcome to Medicare preventive visit? 

When you or a loved one first enrolls in Medicare, the Welcome to Medicare visit is an optional, one-time appointment. It serves as a reference point or baseline for planning personalized medical care going forward. 

Is there a difference between the Welcome Visit and the Annual Wellness Visits?

The two services are similar but separate. The Welcome Visit is used to set a baseline for future, personalized care. The Annual Wellness Visits are yearly appointments that build on that baseline; these are times where you/your loved one can update the prevention plan based on current health needs. If a patient does not schedule a “Welcome to Medicare” visit within 12 months of enrolling in Medicare, they are eligible for an Annual Wellness Visit. 

What happens during the appointment? 

The doctor reviews health history and current health by measuring blood pressure, height and weight, testing vision and cognitive function, assessing depression risk, level of safety and evaluating medications.

Can loved ones accompany patients at the visit? 

Patients can choose to have a loved one come along to their in-person visit to help make sure they remember to ask all the right questions.  

How can I prepare for the visit? 

Think about your health priorities and concerns. Are you interested in better managing your chronic disease? Maybe you want to ensure you can continue your hobbies well into the future. And, be prepared to talk about any declines you’re feeling in your vision, memory or hearing. 

“My daughter suggested I schedule my Medicare Wellness Visit.  I’m so glad that I did.  My doctor asked me in-depth questions about my balance, medications I’m taking, memory, self-care, driving and more.  These questions led to important discussions that I don’t think I would have had otherwise. 

I have a good plan in place now to keep me as healthy and active as possible.” 

- Hannah, age 73

Remember, even if you don’t schedule a Welcome to Medicare visit, you are still eligible and encouraged to schedule an Annual Wellness Visit.

Both visits are conversations between the patient and clinician to discuss health history and any health concerns, and to review medications and immunizations. These visits are meant to help determine what health issues may become a concern in the future based on family history and risk factors, and help patients work to prevent issues and stay healthy for as long as possible.