What We Can Find Out About Your Health During a Wellness Exam

Dec 05, 2022
What We Can Find Out About Your Health During a Wellness Exam
The year’s almost over, but there’s still time to schedule your Medicare-covered Annual Wellness Visit (AWV). Don’t skip this key visit, as we can discover important things about your health. Here’s what you should know.

It’s December, but if you have Medicare coverage, you still have time to schedule your Annual Wellness Visit (AWV). This important exam isn’t the same as the annual physical you may be accustomed to, but it can tell us key health information to promote your long-term wellbeing.   

At Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, with 12 locations in Nuremberg, Falls, Laporte, Edwardsville, Shickshinny, Wilkes-Barre, Monroe Township, Sullivan Trail Fall, Freeland, and Hazelton, Pennsylvania, our team of providers specializes in these annual Medicare exams. 

Using the information about your health we gather during your AWV, our team works with you to create a comprehensive prevention plan for the upcoming year. Here’s a closer look at what to expect during your AWV, along with some of the information we can find out about your health during the exam.  

Annual Wellness Visit (AWV): An overview

First, you should know that the annual Medicare exam isn’t exactly the same as the routine annual physical you may have had in the past. Annual physicals aren’t covered by Medicare. 

Instead of physicals, Medicare added Annual Wellness Visits under the Affordable Care Act to help with early detection and prevent major medical and health conditions from developing. Every year, your AWV is covered by Medicare. This means you don’t have to worry about a bill or copay when you come to our center for your exam. 

Depending on what your provider sees during your AWV, they may recommend additional diagnostic testing or lab work that isn’t isn’t included in the AWV, and may not be covered by Medicare. However, your provider talks with you about these items and their expected costs before ordering them.

Some of our patients at the center ask us how they can tell if they’re eligible for an AWV. To qualify for a fully covered AWV, you must:

  • Not have had an AWV in the past 12 months
  • Have Medicare with Part B coverage (for at least 12 months)

And if you’re new to Medicare, you need to wait at least 12 months from the time of your one-time Welcome to Medicare visit. 

If you’re unsure about whether you’re eligible for an AWV or whether you need the welcome exam first, contact our team at Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania.  

What to expect at an AWV

Before coming to your AWV appointment, it’s important to take a few minutes to prepare for your exam. This helps us make sure you have the most successful visit possible. To get ready for this important exam, be sure to:

  • Bring your Medicare card and state-issued ID
  • Complete and bring your Health Risk Assessment form
  • Bring all medical records from visits since your last AWV at our practice (i.e., ER or urgent care visits)
  • Bring a list of all medications, supplements, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and vitamins you take
  • Come ready to talk about your top health concerns or topics of interest

The AWV appointment itself is similar to regular physicals, however your provider also asks you questions about your daily routine, memory, and health, and conducts special age-related screenings that may include:

  • Vision and hearing screenings
  • Mood disorder risk factor evaluation
  • Cognitive impairment assessment
  • Fall risk evaluation (functional ability and safety)

Your provider may also make specific health recommendations or referrals for any relevant health issues that come up during your visit. Ultimately, the goal is to create a personalized prevention plan for your overall health. 

Key health information revealed

Your AWV can help reveal serious health conditions through preventive screenings and tests, which give your provider key information about your current health and help us figure out when you need more care. Some of the screenings and tests covered by Medicare Part B include:

  • Depression screening
  • Diabetes screening
  • Flu and pneumococcal vaccinations
  • Cardiovascular disease screening
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening (for at-risk patients)
  • Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
  • Bone density testing
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Mammogram and breast exam 
  • Pap smear test and pelvic exam
  • PSA screening for prostate cancer 
  • Sexually transmitted infection screening and counseling
  • Lung cancer screening (for at-risk patients)
  • Nutrition therapy services 
  • Obesity screening and counseling 

Medicare also fully covers counseling to help current smokers stop smoking.  

In some cases, something in your history or discussion with your provider may cause them to recommend preventive screenings and services are partially covered by Medicare. If you have Medigap, this additional insurance may cover some or all of these screenings. 

We also offer a sliding fee schedule based on annual income which may qualify you for additional out-of-pocket savings for anything that’s not covered by your insurance.   

Schedule your AWV by booking an appointment online or over the phone at one of the 12 centers nearest you. If you need help getting to a center, we offer free transportation services with rides to and from your appointment.