Welcome to Medicare visit vs. Medicare annual wellness visit – which do I need and when?

Preventive care visits can help find issues early on. Learn what’s covered by your Medicare plan and how often you should go in for check-ups.

Medicare offers “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visits and annual wellness visits. They sound alike and are both geared toward keeping you healthy – but they’re not the same. Learn which one you need, now and in the future.

If you’re new to Medicare

If you just started Medicare (within the past year)…

Get: A “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit

It includes: A checkup and conversation with your doctor about your physical and emotional health, with things like:

  • A review of your medical and family history
  • Measurements of your height, weight and blood pressure
  • A simple vision test
  • A discussion about your risk for depression
  • Recommendations of screening tests, shots and other care you might need

It costs: Nothing! It is covered one time. For the visit to be covered you must go to a doctor that is on the list of doctors who accept your Medicare plan. If he or she recommends or does any extra care, tests or procedures during your visit, you might have to help pay for them. You can always call your insurance company to check how much these extras will cost before you get them.

If you’ve had Medicare for more than a year

Get: An annual wellness visit

It includes: A conversation with your care team or doctor to keep them up-to-date on your overall health needs. They’ll ask simple questions about your health. There’s no physical exam, so you’ll have more time to talk about important things, like:

  • Improving or maintaining your physical and mental health
  • Staying active
  • Reducing your risk for falls

It costs: Nothing! You get one covered wellness visit each year. For the visit to be covered, you must go to a care team or doctor that accepts Medicare. If they recommend or do any extra care, tests or procedures, you might have to help pay for them.

No matter if you’re new to Medicare or a seasoned veteran, staying healthy is important to helping you live your best life. I recommend marking your calendar on the same day every year or setting a calendar appointment in your phone to remind yourself to schedule an appointment. Here’s to good health!

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 annual 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 annual wellness visit?