Medicare "Wellness": Worth a Second Look?

These free Medicare "wellness" checkups could end up cutting costs, but it seems they haven't caught on just yet according to this WSJ article by Elizabeth O'Brien. 

If you don't have time to read the whole article, below is an excerpt pulled directly from the article that I thought was important, so Medicare patients know what to expect:

"The new benefit can be confusing to patients, doctors say, because it’s specifically focused on prevention and screenings. It’s also not the same a complete, head-to-toe physical exam. Traditional Medicare still doesn’t fully cover a complete physical; patients are responsible for 20% coinsurance for these exams, an amount that can exceed $100, experts say. (Individual Medicare Advantage programs may fully cover a physical.)

Patients leave their clothes on for the wellness visit, Langston said. While doctors are given leeway to do as much of a “focused” physical exam as they think necessary, it’s likely that a doctor won’t listen to your heart during the wellness visit, nor do many other hands-on procedures. Instead, the doctor or other medical professional will take your blood pressure and record your body mass index. Patients get screened briefly for depression and cognitive impairment, and get a vision test; they also get some vaccines, if needed.

In addition to these screenings, there’s plenty of talk: the patient and doctor will discuss the patient’s medications and medical history and create a customized prevention plan based on a personalized health risk assessment. The two might schedule preventative screenings for the next few years. (Under the Affordable Care Act, screening mammography and colorectal cancer screenings are among the tests now free for beneficiaries, who had to pay coinsurance for these services before.)"1                                          

To read the full article, click on link below.

  1 Source: WSJ article by Elizabeth O’Brien

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