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Your annual preventive health exam (aka well visit or annual physical) is scheduled with your primary care physician to catch potential health issues early, before they become serious, and to help you focus on wellness and a healthy lifestyle while identifying important screening tests, vaccinations and other necessary testing.
Most insurance plans cover your annual wellness exam—no copay required. However, says Dr. Adam Stracher, Chief Medical Officer, Director of the Primary Care Division and Associate Dean at Weill Cornell Medicine, you may find the actual components of a wellness visit a bit confusing.
Read on for answers to your FAQs—and learn what to expect when you visit your doctor’s office, in times of sickness and in health.
Your annual wellness visit includes the following:
“You can check in via Connect up to 5 days before your visit to make sure we have your most up-to-date information, including your medications, medical history and insurance. You will be able to update these, along with your preferred pharmacy. And you can also review and update your responses to your health questionnaire,” Dr. Stracher says.
Please fast for at least 4 hours prior to your visit. You may drink water or black coffee, and take your maintenance medications.
On the day of your appointment, please arrive on time and bring your insurance card and ID.
Specific issues, whether raised by you or identified by your physician during the visit, are considered part of a follow-up or “sick” visit, he explains. “These aspects of your visit will be billed to your insurance, and you may be responsible for copayments, coinsurance or deductible payments, based on the terms of your policy. If you would like to address non-routine concerns during your wellness visit,” he adds, “let us know about these issues when you schedule your appointment. Depending on their complexity, we may need to deal with them at a later time."
The Medicare annual wellness visit, covered by Medicare, allows your health-care provider to conduct a health risk assessment and propose screenings and prevention strategies. As well, your provider will make sure all your immunizations, cancer screenings and other screenings are discussed and scheduled.
Your Medicare wellness visit does not include a detailed physical exam or management of chronic or new medical problems. Your physician may be able to perform a complete physical and address new or existing medical issues during your Medicare annual wellness visit, but you could incur additional charges.
At your Medicare annual wellness visit, your health care provider will:
Bring these items to your visit:
Combining a wellness visit with a physical or follow-up office visit will save you time by eliminating an extra appointment, but doing so may affect your costs. Additional concerns beyond a wellness visit may be billed to your insurance, which can result in unplanned out-of-pocket costs to you. For these reasons, Weill Cornell Medicine Primary Care recommends that you schedule your annual wellness visit and any follow-up or sick office visits separately.
You can schedule your annual wellness or follow-up office visit with a provider in Primary Care .