The Importance of Annual Wellness Visits

What is an Annual Wellness Visit?

Annual wellness visits (aka: annual checkups or wellness exams) are yearly appointments with primary care providers to monitor a patient’s overall health and state of wellness. But why are these annual visits important?

Why are Annual Wellness Visits Important?

There are several reasons why it is important for patients to have an annual visit with their doctor each year.

The Importance of Annual Wellness Visits

Below are some of the ways annual physicals benefit patients:

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Preventive Health Screening

Annual wellness visits allow primary care providers to check for any possible health concerns. These routine checkups involve assessing the patient’s current health status and reviewing their medical history. Physical examinations will include checking blood pressure and other routine procedures. This evaluation will end with the doctor discussing with the patient any concerns and establishing goals (and possibly lifestyle changes) for better health. In some cases, referrals for other medical specialists may be necessary.

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Blood Lab Work

Typically, lab work will be conducted. Blood testing is instrumental in screening for various health conditions, such as anemia, cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, HIV, infections, organ failure, sexually transmitted disease, and vitamin deficiencies. Checking for health problems using blood testing is essential. Often times, serious health conditions in early onset do not trigger symptoms. Identifying and treating medical issues before symptoms begin is key to the best methods of healing and maintaining lifestyles.

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Chronic Disease Management

For patients who suffer from any type of chronic disease (i.e. asthma, dyspnea, diabetes, heart problems, etc.), annual visits will include ongoing monitoring, and re-evaluating treatments.

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Immunizations

Annual visits will also involve immunizations based on the patient’s age and medical history, as well as addressing the need for immunizations based on current public health recommendations.

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Medication Management

For those who suffer from chronic diseases and other medical conditions, the doctor will evaluate the effectiveness of the patient’s current medications. Upon the physician’s findings and recommendations, medications may be altered. Routine review of medications is imperative for improving conditions and protecting the patient’s overall health.

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Wellness Education

Patients who are well educated in disease prevention, the best self-care methods, and when to return for additional exams will remain in the best health. Annual wellness visits are instrumental in helping patients of all ages to maintain the best health.

What is a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit?

The Medicare Annual Wellness Visits (aka: AWV) are not the same as routine physical exams. A Medicare Annual Wellness Visit is for patients age 65 or older, and those younger patients who suffer from disabilities or end-stage renal disease.  Medicare patients are entitled to a wellness visit each year.

Medicare Part B covers the cost for the annual exam, but copayments, deductibles and coinsurance for certain services provided during the screening will be the responsibility of the patient. Medicare Part B entitles the insured patient to a specified list of health screenings, and any required vaccinations. AWV checkups focus on maintaining and improving health based on the patient’s current health status and any potential risk factors.

annual wellness visit medicare

Medical Annual Wellness Requirements

The physicians at Family Medical Group will adhere to the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit Checklist to make sure that all requirements are fulfilled. The Medicare AWV is intended to promote health and wellness. A personalized prevention plan is to be developed for all Medicare patients.

The Medicare AVW Checklist includes:

  • Advance Care Planning: The physician and patient will discuss end-of-life care preferences, establishing a medical power of attorney, and any healthcare directives.
  • Cognitive Function Assessment: Screenings will be performed to identify cognitive impairment for patients who may be at risk for decline. Assessments and tools are used, including the Mini-Cog or the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (aka: MoCA).
  • Depression Screening: Patients are screened for depression using approved tools, such as the Patient Health Questionnaire (aka: PHQ-9) or the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS).
  • Develop a Personalized Prevention Plan: In conclusion of the visit findings, a personalized prevention plan will be developed for the patient to address any needs for preventative care and to instill healthy behaviors.
  • Documentation and Billing: All of the components of the Annual Wellness Visit will be included in the patient’s medical record. The doctor’s administrative team will submit the paperwork providing billing codes and ensuring all measures are following Medicare guidelines.
  • Functional Ability Assessment: An assessment is performed to measure the patient’s level of functional ability and independence (aka: ‘activities of daily living’ or ‘ADLs). ADLs include a patient’s ability to bathe and dress themselves, as well as mobility (how easily they are able to get around) and their ability to perform tasks around the house.
  • Health and Education Counseling: Various topics are discussed with the patient, such as counseling, fall prevention, preventative services, smoking cessation, following instructions involving medication, and other suggestions pertaining to health and wellness.
  • Health Risk Assessment: An assessment will be conducted to find any possible risk factors and health concerns for the patient. Some examples of health risks the doctor will be addressing are alcohol concerns, diet, mental health and smoking.
  • Medical and Family History Review: The physician will review the patient’s family and medical history in an effort to identify existing and potential health problems. The more the doctor knows about existing conditions or possible threats, the better he understands about how to prioritize testing, and education for health and well-being.
  • Vital Signs Assessment: The patient’s body mass index (aka: BMI), blood pressure, height and weight are determined.

Medicaid Annual Wellness Visit Requirements:

Florida Medicaid provides health coverage to individuals of all ages who qualify as low income. Patients enrolled in Medicaid are eligible for annual checkups. These wellness visits were created to prevent health problems, and to address existing conditions. The physicians at Family Medical Group will provide an examination based on the program’s requirements for each individual.

Below are the most common components of the Medicaid Annual Wellness Visit:

  • Comprehensive Health Assessment: The doctor will conduct a health assessment involving the patient’s family and medical history, as well as reviewing his or her existing health concerns.
  • Develop a Plan: At the conclusion of the exam, the physician will provide a plan to address any health problems or potential risk factors. This plan may involve referrals to other medical specialists, medication prescriptions, recommendations for lifestyle changes, and/or follow up appointments.
  • Education and Counseling: After the physician has reviewed the patient’s existing health status and potential problems, education and counseling is provided to address preventative care, necessary changes in lifestyle behaviors, management of any chronic conditions, and other concerns.
  • Health Screening: In order to identify and address any existing or potential health concerns, health screenings are performed, typically these will include lab work and screenings for blood pressure, cancer, cholesterol, diabetes, and other potential problems or deficiencies (based on the patient’s existing health and history).
  • Measure Vital Signs: Blood pressure, heart rate, height, weight and respiratory rate are measured.
  • Medication Analysis: Any current medications, including dosages, are reviewed. Additional medications may be prescribed based on the findings within the exam.
  • Physical Exam: The patient’s health is examined and evaluated to determine existing health and any signs of potential health problems.

Annual Wellness Visits for Patients with or without Insurance

Annual visits for patients with insurance will vary depending on the type of insurance they are covered under. It is important to contact your insurance provider to discuss what is included with your coverage. Copayments and deductibles will vary.

Family Medical Group offers direct pay services for patients without insurance. We also offer a Monthly Membership Plan that offers affordable healthcare for patients who are responsible for their own healthcare payments.

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Walk-in or Schedule an Appointment Today

Our health providers and staff at Family Medical Group are happy to answer any questions. Schedule an appointment today at any of our locations throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties. We also welcome walk-in appointments for annual physical exams, as well as care for existing health conditions. Visit us for primary care, lab work, accident rehabilitation, chiropractic care, physical therapy, orthopedic care, pain managementbeauty and wellness, and women’s health.