PREPARE FOR YOUR ANNUAL WELLNESS EXAM
If your annual wellness exam is coming up, it’s time to start preparing now. These visits aren’t just to keep your healthcare records up-to-date. They also allow you to ask questions and contribute to your overall healthcare plan.
You’ll want to know how Medicare Supplement plans impact your visit, from copays and coinsurance to blood tests.
The following are some of the most important best practices to consider when preparing for your annual wellness exam.
MAKE A LIST OF YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS
If you haven’t been to your primary care physician in a while, he or she will likely need an updated list of the prescription medications you take. You can either make a list of them to take with you to the doctor for your wellness exam or take the prescriptions with you to the visit.
When listing your prescription drugs, note the name of the drug, the dosage, and how frequently you take it. If you take the generic form, consider writing down the brand name as well. Since many drugs have multiple purposes, either memorize or write down why you take each drug.
You might also take over-the-counter medications on a regular basis, such as pain relievers or sleep aids. Add those to your list, noting the dosage and frequency of each.
Remember that Medicare Supplement plans don’t cover prescription medications. If you’re struggling to cover expenses related to drugs, make a note to ask your physician about alternatives, such as generics, or special programs that can bring down those costs.
WRITE DOWN ANY SYMPTOMS YOU’VE BEEN EXPERIENCING
As you get older, you might discover certain aches, pains, and other symptoms that interrupt your daily life. An annual wellness exam gives you the perfect opportunity to mention them.
Medicare Supplement plans and Original Medicare cover annual wellness exams in full, and they’re not considered sick visits. Consequently, you probably won’t explore those issues in full during your exam, but you can make a plan to revisit those issues during a subsequent appointment.
Letting your doctor know about any symptoms — especially those that cause significant discomfort — can help him or her evaluate you more accurately.
MAKE A LIST OF ALL SPECIALISTS YOU’VE SEEN OVER THE LAST YEAR
You’ll also want to update your physician about anyone else who is treating you for specific conditions. You might see a specialist for cardiovascular issues, for instance. Write down the provider’s name and contact information.
If you wish, you can contact specialists you see and give them permission to share your personal healthcare information with your primary care physician, and vice versa. That way, all providers can communicate about how best to care for you.
Many Medicare Supplement plans help reduce the costs of seeing specialists. For instance, some Medigap plan options cover your deductibles and copayments for those visits.
WRITE DOWN ANY SPECIFIC NUMBERS, SUCH AS BLOOD PRESSURE RECORDINGS
If you monitor your vital signs for a specific reason, write down your most recent recordings. These could include blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, respiration rate, or blood oxygen levels. Your doctor can use those numbers to evaluate you more thoroughly and to better understand your current healthcare status.
You might have noticed physical changes in your body over the last 12 months. If you’ve gained or lost significant weight, for instance, or lost height, your provider will need to know.
CREATE A LIST OF QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR PROVIDER
When you’re sitting in a doctor’s office, it’s easy to forget about questions that have occurred to you over the last 12 months — especially if you’re counting the seconds until you can leave. To make sure you don’t forget, write down those questions and make sure you get answers.
Some Medicare Supplement plan providers have online portals where you can record information about your health for future retrieval. Find out if your insurer offers something like that so you can record vital signs, questions to get answered, and other information as it occurs to you.
The questions you might want to ask could involve prescription medications, testing you haven’t yet received, or recommendations for diet and exercise.
FIND OUT IF YOU NEED TO FAST BEFORE YOUR ANNUAL WELLNESS EXAM
In many cases, your doctor will want you to fast before your annual wellness exam. This typically involves eating or drinking nothing for at least eight hours prior to the exam. If you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels or hunger pangs, consider scheduling your appointment for first thing in the morning.
MAKE SURE YOUR PROVIDER ACCEPTS MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT PLANS AND DETERMINE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
You might already have done your research to confirm that your primary care physician accepts Medicare Supplement plans. If not, do so in advance of your appointment so you can find another doctor if necessary.
You shouldn’t have any financial responsibility for the appointment, but there are some exceptions. For instance, if you’ve already had a wellness exam within the last 12 months, your Medicare supplement plan might require a copayment for the visit. You can call your insurance company to verify.
Medicare Supplement plans help keep you healthy long after retirement by reducing your out-of-pocket costs. However, you still have to take initiative with regard to preventative services, such as your annual wellness exam.
If you haven’t researched Medicare Supplement plans and are approaching age 65, now is the time to do so. Medicare Supplement insurance helps cover costs that Original Medicare doesn’t. Ensurem offers a handy Medigap Quoter so you can easily comparison shop for different Medicare Supplement plans.