Medicare wants you to remember your wellness visit and get your blood pressure checked.
Believe it or not, Medicare cares about your blood pressure.
In an email sent this week, Medicare.gov says:
It’s important for you to know your current blood pressure numbers, even when you’re feeling fine. High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms, but it can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
Since when does Medicare care about preventing these dire results? Probably since it figured out that, by preventing disease, it will prevent costly treatment. This can help control its skyrocketing medical reimbursement costs.
But, the important thing is that prevention is really good for you. If your doctor can detect early signs of disease or disability, it will save you time, money, and agony and may save your life.
How do you do this? Under Medicare, you are eligible for a free wellness visit every year. A wellness visit is designed to catch anything not right in your system. If you are not taking advantage of this benefit, start now!
Wellness for new Medicare members
If you have been a Medicare beneficiary less than 12 months, you can get a “Welcome to Medicare” visit with your doctor or nurse practitioner. During this visit, he or she will – you got it – take your blood pressure, as well as other vital signs like weight and pulse rate. This will establish a benchmark for future visits.
If something is off, such as blood pressure being too high or heartbeats that sound funny, additional tests or treatment will be recommended.
While the wellness visit is free, further tests may not be, so be sure to investigate further. This moves you from preventative to diagnostic services, for which there usually are charges.
Wellness for Medicare members after 12 months
Once you pass the year mark, you are eligible for a free annual wellness visit. Much the same procedures will be done: vital signs taken, lots of questions asked. The questions are focused on identifying risk factors that could lead to disease or disability. Do you smoke? Do you wear a seat belt?
You will fill out a form called “Health Risk Assessment.” This will allow your caregiver to create a plan for you to manage your risks and stay healthy.
You will be informed about preventative services, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, or vaccines. Many of these preventative services are free, as well.
A wellness visit is not a physical exam
A warning: when you schedule your appointment, do not say you want a “physical.” A physical exam is more in-depth and there will be a copay. Say “wellness visit.”
So, blood pressure matters and Medicare cares. If it has been a year since your last wellness visit or if you have never had one, schedule one now. You can even have visits to your own home!
A little prevention goes a long, long way.