En español | You can get one free “Welcome to Medicare” checkup at any time during the first 12 months after you enroll in Medicare Part B. This checkup is not the type of comprehensive exam known as a “physical” but an opportunity for your doctor to assess your health and provide a plan of future care. The checkup serves as a comparative baseline for monitoring your health during the annual “wellness visits” that Medicare will pay for in subsequent years.
During the “Welcome to Medicare” visit, you can expect the doctor to:
- record your vital information (height, weight, blood pressure, body mass);
- review your personal and family health history;
- check risk factors that could indicate future serious illnesses;
- recommend tests and screenings that could catch medical issues early and provide a checklist of preventive services (many of which Medicare covers for free — such as mammograms and vaccinations) to help you stay healthy;
- offer you the option of discussing end-of-life issues, including information on how to make advance directives that you could use to name someone who would make medical decisions on your behalf if you became too ill to make them yourself;
- provide counseling and referrals as appropriate.
The “Welcome to Medicare” checkup is optional. You do not need to have had this checkup to qualify for later annual wellness visits; but Medicare won’t pay for a wellness visit during your first 12 months in Part B.
The “Welcome to Medicare” checkup is free of charge (no deductible, no copay) if the following conditions are met:
- If you’re enrolled in the original Medicare program: You need to go to a doctor who accepts “assignment” — meaning that he or she accepts the Medicare-approved payment as full compensation.
- If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan (such as an HMO or PPO): You need to go to a doctor in the plan’s provider network.