You remember the saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," don't you? Well it's absolutely true, especially when it comes to taking care of your health.
Medicare implemented a new benefit last year called the Annual Wellness Visit. Both Medicare and Medicare Advantage members are now eligible for an annual wellness visit with their doctor without any coinsurance or copay. Taking advantage of this benefit will allow you and your doctor to develop a personalized prevention plan or update your current plan. Your doctor is one of your most valuable resources when it comes to staying healthy or living with a medical condition.
To ensure that you're getting the most out of this valuable benefit, there are important points to remember in order to help you and your doctor develop a personalized prevention plan based on your current health and risk factors. Remember, this is your opportunity to be involved in the sharing and planning of a preventive health plan; something I encourage for all seniors.
When you call your doctor's office to make your appointment, remember to tell the office staff that you are making an appointment for your annual wellness visit. That way, enough time will be scheduled to complete your exam and discuss your health with your doctor.
Before you arrive for your visit, there are some key items that you should bring with you. They include a list of all health care providers, including any specialists, eye doctors and dentists who you have seen in the past year; all medications that you are taking, including any vitamins and over-the-counter products; your advance directive, if you have one; a list of questions you may have about how to manage your health, prevent illness and develop an exercise plan that is right for you.
Now that you're ready for the appointment, let's discuss what exactly occurs during your annual wellness visit. It should include a doctor discussng:
Finally, before you leave the office, ask about getting vaccinated before the flu season arrives. As part of your preventive health plan, Medicare beneficiaries are eligible to receive a free flu shot and pneumonia vaccine.
Take charge of your health by scheduling your annual wellness visit now, because your health matters.
Dr. Judith Black is the medical director for Senior Markets at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia.