Check off what you should ask, what to schedule, and how to prepare for your “Welcome to Medicare” visit

Planning for health insurance and maintaining a regular schedule for doctor visits should be a priority for retirees. When you first enroll in Medicare, you have access to a free “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit once within the first 12 months after you enroll in Part B.

This visit is a great opportunity to understand and take advantage of the preventive services covered by Medicare Part B. If you’re new to Medicare, we’ve prepared a checklist for you to get ready for your Welcome to Medicare visit.

Key takeaways:

  • If you’re new to Medicare, you have a free “Welcome to Medicare” visit once within the first 12 months after your Part B coverage starts. 

  • This visit is a good time to ask your provider about your health conditions, understand what preventive screenings and vaccines to schedule, and take control of your healthcare.

  • After your first 12 months of Part B coverage, you get one free “Wellness” visit each year.

What is the Welcome to Medicare visit?

For beneficiaries who are new to Medicare, the Welcome to Medicare visit is an opportunity to take control of your health by talking to your doctor about any concerns, reviewing your medical history, and understanding your options for preventive services that are covered by Medicare. This visit is free and you can schedule it within the 12 months after your Part B coverage begins.

Keep in mind that the Welcome to Medicare visit is not typically a comprehensive physical exam or a head-to-toe assessment. Instead, it focuses on preventive care and education to help you stay healthy and catch potential health issues early on.

While the visit itself won’t cost you a dime, you may have to pay a copay or coinsurance if your healthcare provider performs additional services during the same appointment. 

What to expect during the Welcome to Medicare visit

During the Welcome to Medicare visit, your doctor will typically review your medical history, assess your current health status, and provide personalized health advice and information, especially around preventive screenings. 

The visit may include:

  • Discussing your medical and family history

  • Measuring your height, weight, blood pressure, and other routine vitals

  • Assessing risk factors for certain diseases

  • Recommendations for preventive screenings

  • Reviewing which vaccinations you’ve received and recommendations for vaccinations you may need

  • Conducting a simple vision test

  • Referrals for care

  • Evaluating your mental health

  • Counseling on living a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise

  • Explaining the various preventive services covered by Medicare, such as screenings for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes

  • Consultation about creating advance directives (how you want to make medical decisions if you can’t speak for yourself)

The Welcome to Medicare visit empowers you to take charge of your healthcare by evaluating your current health and developing a plan for ongoing preventive care. 

Checklist one: preparing for the Welcome to Medicare visit

  1. Compile your medical history: Be prepared to share your medical history with your healthcare provider, and include details about past and present medical conditions. Share details about surgeries, hospitalizations, and other major health events. Be ready to discuss any conditions that run in your family as well.

  2. Make a list of your medications: Your doctor will ask you if you’re taking any medications currently. Make a comprehensive list of all the drugs you’re taking, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements. It’s helpful for your doctor to know the dosage, frequency, and reason for taking each medication too. 

  3. Gather relevant health documents: You’ll need your Medicare card and any other insurance cards you have. If you have information about advance directives or living wills, you can bring that for discussion. Bring other relevant medical records in case they come in handy.

  4. Prepare questions to ask your provider: Take some time to consider or write down questions you have about your health. This is a time for you to take care of your present and future health. Ask about what your doctor recommends for you to prevent or manage specific health concerns. 

  5. Note any health concerns currently: Whether mental or physical, take note of symptoms you’ve been experiencing or recent changes in your health. Your doctor may also ask you about your daily habits, like exercise, diet, and sleep patterns. 

Checklist two: follow-up after the Welcome to Medicare visit

  1. Review recommendations from your doctor: Take time to understand your doctor’s recommendations and then make a list of your next steps. It could be scheduling preventive screenings, booking an appointment for a vaccination, or implementing lifestyle changes. 

  2. Schedule follow-up appointments: If your healthcare provider recommended any follow-up screenings or tests, schedule these appointments promptly. Avoid delays to catch and prevent conditions early on.

  3. Update your medication list: Implement any medication changes into your routine if your doctor recommended changes to your prescriptions. Monitor for any side effects or challenges with the medication. 

  4. Understand your Medicare benefits: Knowing your Medicare benefits for preventive care can help you prevent health challenges in the future. Medicare has comprehensive coverage for screenings, vaccines, and tests, so you can take full advantage of your coverage. You can also get one free “Wellness” visit each year.

  5. Keep it up: Continue to implement lifestyle changes and schedule preventive measures. Routine doctor visits can also ensure that you live a long and healthy life. 

By following these checklists, you can play a proactive role in managing your health and ensuring that you receive timely care to maintain your well-being. 

If you have more questions about Medicare, you can ask your provider during your Welcome to Medicare visit or you can get in touch with a Chapter Medicare Advisor. An Advisor can help you thoroughly understand your plan so that you can use your benefits to their full extent.

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