There is a lot of confusion when a HealthFirst client with Medicare is told they are going to have an Annual Wellness Visit versus a Complete Physical Exam.  This article is an attempt to simplify the differences.

The Initial Preventative Physical Exam (also known as the Welcome to Medicare Physical) is a Complete Physical Exam that a Medicare recipient is entitled to ONLY in the first twelve (12) months of enrollment to Medicare.

During a Complete Physical Exam, your HealthFirst provider will:  Review your medical and social history (including tobacco, alcohol and drug use); screen for depression or other mood disorders, nutritional habits, exercise, your functional ability and level of safety; go over end-of-life planning; and provide you with any health education and preventative services you may need.  The “hands-on” portion of the exam consists of taking your height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, pulse and respiration rate.
Your provider will listen to your lungs, and look into your eyes, ears and mouth.  You will also receive vision and hearing screenings, as well as a manual breast exam, pap or prostate exam.  At this time, your provider will take the opportunity to discuss medications, refills and referrals with you.

The Medicare Annual Wellness Visit that became effective on February 5th, 2015, is a once-a-year exam that is “hands-off.”  This means that it has all the components of a Complete Physical Exam, but with only a few hands-on elements.  At the Annual Wellness Visit, providers are only allowed to use hands-on exam procedures to assess your height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, pulse and respiration.

If you are on Medicare, your Annual Wellness Visit does allow for “Other Medicare Part B Preventive Services to be done at a separate visit with your provider, such as:

  • Cardiovascular Disease Screening Tests;
  • Colorectal Cancer Screening;
  • Diabetes Screening;
  • Diabetes Self-Management Training;
  • Hepatitis C Virus Screening;
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Screening;
  • Influenza, Pneumococcal, and Hepatitis B Vaccinations;
  • Mammography Screening;
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy;
  • Obesity Intensive Behavioral Therapy;
  • Pap Smear Tests;
  • Pelvic Examination (including a Clinical Breast Examination);
  • Prostate Cancer Screening; or,
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Screening and High Intensity Behavioral Counseling to Prevent STIs.”

At HealthFirst Family Care Center, we offer these exams as a way of maintaining your health and providing you with the best service possible at the lowest cost.  If you would like to schedule an appointment for either a Complete Physical Exam or an Annual Wellness Visit, please call HealthFirst Franklin or Laconia.

For more detailed information, visit the ABCs of the Annual Wellness Visit.

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