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Medicare Recipients: Are You Taking Advantage of This Free Benefit?

Posted 10/6/2016 by UHBlog

Learn about a free Medicare benefit that can prevent illness before it occurs. Ask us.

Medicare Recipients: Are You Taking Advantage of This Free Benefit?

When Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” little did he know 200 years later the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – or Obamacare – would put preventive health measures at the top of its list.

In an effort to be proactive in terms of patient care, the ACA offers a one-time, free "Welcome to Medicare" wellness visit to promote health and prevent and detect disease. This visit is offered at no cost to beneficiaries new to Medicare within the first 12 months they have Medicare Part B coverage.

“With 65 being the new 45, this is a wonderful benefit for everyone who qualifies,” says internal medicine and gerontology specialist Kathleen Rogers, MD. “The 'Welcome to Medicare' visit lets us nip potential problems in the bud, develop a patient baseline and ensure our patients are current with important screenings and services.”

Additionally, the free visit brings in people who haven’t been able to afford adequate health care before, Dr. Rogers says.

According to Dr. Rogers, a typical Welcome to Medicare visit includes:

  • Reviewing your medical and social history and looking at risk factors for diseases
  • Undergoing a physical examination that gathers information, such as height, weight, blood pressure, visual acuity screening, body mass index measurement, etc.
  • Assessing your hearing
  • Looking at your functional ability and its impact on your safety
  • Establishing a schedule for Medicare screening and preventive services that you qualify for over the next five to 10 years
  • Assessing your potential to develop depression or other mood disorders
  • Discussing end-of-life plans
  • Providing education, counseling and medical referrals if needed

To prepare for your visit, Dr. Rogers recommends that you bring:

  • Medical records, including immunization records
  • A list of prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and supplements
  • Family health history

“This information gives us a more complete picture of our patients so we can determine the best avenues for preventative care,” she says.

Once you’ve completed the Welcome to Medicare visit, you’re eligible for a free Medicare wellness visit once every 12 months.

“This is our chance to follow-through on the health plan strategy we’ve developed with our patients,” Dr. Rogers says. “It also enables us to discuss preventive care for the coming year.”

By preventing illness before it occurs, you’re more likely to age in place longer and have a higher quality of life, Dr. Rogers says.

“Our goal is to have seniors live as full and healthy a life as possible,” she says. “At UH, we have established the Center for Lifelong Health and participate in the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). These efforts help us design individual care plans for our patients and provide them the opportunity to live an independent and productive lifestyle as long as possible.”

Kathleen Rogers, MD is an internal medicine and gerontology specialist at University Hospitals Concord Primary Care. You can request an appointment with Dr. Rogers or any other doctor online.

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