Seniors, there’s no time like the present to schedule an annual wellness visit with your doctor. Going to the doctor when you’re not feeling well (often called a physical exam or sick visit) is an important part of maintaining your overall health and well-being, but some people don’t realize you should also see your doctor when you’re well, too.

Senior woman with an older male doctor reviewing information on a computer

During an annual wellness visit (a fully covered benefit for all Medicare members), you’ll learn how to keep your body and mind healthy. Unlike a physical exam, this visit isn’t about diagnosing a health issue — it’s about preventing them. The goal of an annual wellness visit is to develop a personal prevention and wellness plan with your doctor based on your unique health factors.


What to Expect During Typical Physical Exams

A physical exam (or sick visit) is when a doctor examines your body to determine if you do or do not have a physical problem. A physical exam typically includes such tests as a check of vital signs; measurement of height, weight and blood pressure; and an inspection of your body.

Because this is an extensive examination of the body and what’s ailing you, there is limited focus on prevention.

Annual Wellness Visits Focus on Prevention for Medicare Members

During an annual wellness visit, a discussion about your current health and risk factors will help you and your doctor determine what you need to do to be as healthy as possible.

It helps if you’re prepared to answer questions about your physical and emotional health during the past year. Your doctor will ask you about vaccines and screenings, medication use and wellness goals. You should also have any questions that you want to ask your doctor written down, so you can be sure you leave your visit with all of the information you need.

In order for your doctor to review your medications, you should bring the medications you take to your annual wellness visit. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as any vitamins and supplements.

Also, be sure to take the time you have with your doctor to ask him or her about any preventive screenings or tests you should plan on scheduling, such as breast cancer screenings, cholesterol testing and colorectal cancer screenings. If you are due for a screening, the wellness visit is the ideal time to ask your doctor for a prescription for the screening.

Just like a routine physical exam, even if you are in good health, an annual wellness visit is important to maintaining your health because it addresses any concerns early on. And remember, the appointment is fully covered for anyone with Medicare, so be sure to schedule yours today.