The Medicare Annual Wellness Visit: A Regularly Scheduled Service for Prevention and Wellness
Cars and I have a love-hate relationship — I love the convenience of getting where I need to go anytime I want to, but I hate them for the ever-increasing expenses involved in running, maintenance and occasional extra cost of a speeding ticket or, even worse, an accident. I should mention that three of my kids in my household are now driving: if I told you my current auto insurance bill, you would likely get teary-eyed. So, every time a vehicle expense comes up, I cringe a little about more money going into the cars.
One area of auto expenses that I am coming to terms with is regular maintenance and the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. I have learned that smaller, incremental maintenance items help keep my vehicles running well and will pay off by avoiding higher cost repairs and more challenging problems down the road.
Similarly, our work at Comagine Health with primary care clinicians has taught me some things about regular maintenance and prevention.
We humans perform better and live longer, happier lives when our health and wellness is regularly attended to with daily physical activity, intake of healthy food and water, and regular monitoring of key health indicators. This is especially true as we age. Medicare has realized this, too and addresses it by recommending and supporting the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) available as a yearly opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries. This benefit affords beneficiaries and their providers the opportunity to review their key health and wellness indicators each year. Created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2011, the AWV is a free benefit for Medicare enrollees. The AWV is designed to encourage and support individuals to take an active role in accurately assessing and managing their health and improving their well-being and quality of life. This is akin to performing the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule on your vehicle, rather than waiting for something to break down.
As stated on the Comagine Health webpage for the Annual Wellness Visit:
“The AWV is an opportunity for providers to focus on prevention, review health history, reconcile medications, and identify any immunizations or screenings that might be needed.
“It is a wellness visit — not a physical — and can be a vehicle for good patient care. It is an opportunity for the provider to ensure that a patient's risks are accurately documented; it is also an opportunity for the patient to talk to the physician about their goals and things that are important to them. CMS states, ’The Annual Wellness Visit is best furnished to a beneficiary when their health status is stable, and they are open to discussing preventive and screening services available in Medicare.’”
Ask your primary care provider about scheduling your AWV (or equivalent for other insurance providers) so you can ensure optimal performance and peak health and wellness — you are worth it!
For clinicians interested in learning more, accessing tools and resources, or for assistance in implementing an AWV program in your care setting, take a look at our page for Strengthening Primary Care.