Medicare Part B users now get free annual exam

Medicare is now giving a one-time “welcome to Medicare” physical exam within the first 12 months of signing up for Medicare Part B.The exam is a preventative measure as Medicare shifts its aim from treating illnesses to preventing them. During the exam, the doctor will record the patient’s medical history, calculate body mass index, administer a vision test and check the patient’s weight, height and blood pressure.The first exam is free if the doctor works with Medicare. Depending on the patient’s health, they might have other tests ordered and receive advice on improving health. Each patient should get a written plan detailing which other preventative services the patient needs.Allison Richman, from the BRAG Area Agency on Aging, said Medicare is starting to realize the benefits of preventing instead of treating.”I think they’re realizing, if we pay for these colonoscopies once a year or something, we’re going to catch things and not have to pay for things like cancer treatments,” she said, giving an example.A patient should bring medical records, immunization records, family health history and a list of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are being used.Medicare users who have had Part B for longer than 12 months are able to get a yearly wellness exam. This exam is also free if the doctor accepts Medicare. Receiving a “Welcome to Medicare” exam is not necessary in order to receive the yearly exam, but each exam must occur at least 12 months after each other.More information about free exams under Medicare and other preventative services, visit www.medicare.gov and find the options under “Manage Your Health.”Richman cautions Medicare users to be on the lookout for fraud which inevitably comes with any new Medicare program. Each user should make sure their doctor works with Medicare, be careful with who they give access to their Medicare card and to double check their Medicare bill when it arrives. When a patient goes to the doctor, that patient should make note of tests and procedures done so they can check it against the Medicare bill. If anything on the bill looks questionable, the patient should first contact the doctor. If the problem isn’t fixed or happens multiple times, Medicare users can call the people at BRAG, 752-7242, who will file a fraud notice with Medicare.- rachel@cvdaily.com

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