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Seniors and people with disabilities who follow doctors’ recommendations and attend their annual physical are likely to see a steep charge unless they know exactly what to ask for.

People deserve good health, but it doesn't have to cost hundreds of dollars to get it. Up until a few years ago, Medicare did not cover services intended to prevent disease. When founded more than 50 years ago, Medicare was designed to address diagnosis and treatment in older people. Medicare does not, and has never, covered the cost of a physical exam and associated tests.

What is the work around for staying healthy and having Medicare pay for it? Request a "wellness visit". Wellness visits are similar to an “annual physical” but without the physical exam. At a wellness visit, the doctor will check a person’s weight, height, and blood pressure. Based on personal and family history, a timeline for vaccinations, screenings, and other prevention services will be created and the doctor will assess the patient for cognitive issues, depression, and safety risks like falls.  

Are all aspects of the "wellness visit" covered? Not necessarily. sometimes other tests may be recommended by the doctor. The best thing any patient can do is ask questions before a new test or screening is performed.

  • "Is this covered by Medicare?"

  • "Will I have a co-pay?"

  • "Does the hospital waive fees for people with a low-income?"

  • "What are my options?"

When people ask questions, they can make informed decisions about what they need, don't need, and how they want to pay.

For more information read the article by the Washington Post.

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