How to prepare for your “Welcome to Medicare” visit

New to Medicare? Take advantage of your Welcome to Medicare visit. Learn what to expect and when to schedule it.

You got the card in the mail and you’re officially a Medicare member. Congrats! Are you wondering what to do next? One of your first steps is to schedule your Welcome to Medicare visit. Everyone who signs up for Medicare can get one welcome visit covered by Medicare during their first year.

For the visit to be covered, make an appointment with a doctor that accepts Medicare. If you want to see the doctor you’ve been going to for years, log on to your online account and search the list of doctors your Medicare plan covers (your network) or call your insurance company to double-check that your doctor accepts your Medicare plan.

What happens at a Welcome to Medicare visit?

The goal of a Welcome to Medicare visit is for the doctor to get an overview of your health. You’ll talk about your current health and anything else you might want to do to stay healthy.

The visit includes:

  • A review of your medical and family history
  • A checkup to measure your height, weight, blood pressure and vision
  • A discussion of your emotional health and risk for depression
  • Personalized recommendations for any care you need – like screening tests or shots

Even though your welcome visit is covered by Medicare, if your doctor recommends any extra care, tests or procedures during your visit, you might have to pay for them. You can always call your insurance company to check on the costs of these extras before you get them.

What to bring

The more you prepare for your visit, the easier it will be for your doctor to make health recommendations for you.

Bring with you:

  • Your family health history. Learn as much as you can about any health conditions your family members have had. This may help your doctor be on the lookout for early signs of disease.
  • Your medical records and immunizations records. If you’ve been a patient at that office for a long time, they should have all of your records. But if you’re switching clinics, you’ll probably need to get your records transferred from your old doctor to your new one. Call your old doctor’s office ahead of time and ask for their help sending your records. Typically, you’ll need to fill out a form that gives your approval to send your records from one office to another. You generally don’t have to pay for this, but it can take a few weeks, so make sure you request the transfer a couple of weeks before your appointment.
  • A list of your medicines. Bring all of the bottles for your doctor to look at. Make a list of all the prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and other supplements you take. Write down how much you take, how often you take them and what you take them for.

What’s next

Once you’ve been on Medicare for more than one year, you can get one covered wellness visit each year. These visits are similar to the welcome visit and focus on keeping you healthy – both physically and emotionally – and preventing disease.

You are reading the “Getting started with your Medicare plan” series.

New to Medicare and not sure where to start? This series can help you get started.

Part 1: Welcome to Medicare visit vs. Medicare wellness visit – which do I need and when?
Part 2: How to prepare for your “Welcome to Medicare” visit
Part 3: Do I really need my yearly wellness exam?