Annual Wellness Visits: They Can Be Valuable to Your Health

In 2011, Medicare introduced annual wellness visits (AWVs) for eligible beneficiaries. These visits are intended to help you and your doctor work together to prevent illness. It’s different from a traditional annual physical because the AWV focuses on your risk for conditions common to aging adults, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

Wellness Visits Can Help You Stay Healthy
As people age, they often see less of a need for annual checkups and wellness visits,[1] perhaps because they’re already seeing their doctors for so many other ailments. While that’s understandable, studies show that those who do attend an AWV are:

  • Less likely to require emergency services
  • Less likely to end up in the hospital
  • Less likely to experience depression
  • Less likely to fall and, therefore, less likely to suffer fall-related injuries

Prepare Before You Go
To get the most benefit from a wellness visit, it’s best to be prepared with all the information your doctor will need. Here are some steps you can take to be prepared.

  1. Write down all prescription and over-the-counter medications you take. (You may also want to gather them all up and take them with you to the appointment.) This includes prescriptions, non-prescriptions, vitamins, supplements and herbal medications.
  2. Include your medical history as well as the medical history of immediate family members (parents, siblings, etc.). Be sure to include diagnoses and surgeries as well as the dates.
  3. Make a list of all your doctors and other healthcare providers, including their names and office contact information. You may also want to add the dates of your last visits and note the dates of any tests, such as colonoscopies, CAT scans and mammograms.

You may also want to ask a loved one to join you for the appointment if you have concerns, feel nervous or would just like some additional support. If you complete your annual wellness visit on your own, it might be helpful to take notes, so you can easily recall important information.

During Your Visit
You may be asked to complete questionnaires that cover wellness topics, such as your diet, daily activities and living environment. Take your time filling them out, and answer each question honestly, so that your provider gets an accurate picture of your current health and your potential risk factors.

When it’s time to discuss your current medications, you may want to ask your doctor if you should consider other medication options, such as lower-priced alternatives or generics, which may help you save money. You may also want to ask about getting prescriptions for 90 days worth of medication rather than just 30, so you can investigate mail order options, which will save time and may also save money.

Wellness Does Work
Even though scheduling and attending a wellness exam every year takes time and effort, it can end up saving you time and money later by helping you avoid injury, visits to the emergency room and hospital stays. If visiting your physician one additional time each year can lower your risk of serious health issues, isn’t it worth it?


[1]  Chung, S., Romanelli, R. J., Stults, C. D., & Luft, H. S. (2018). Preventive visit among older adults with Medicare's introduction of Annual Wellness Visit: Closing gaps in underutilization.


S7694_21-6535_enewsletter 2021_C Reviewed 08/13/21

Elixir Insurance is a Prescription Drug Plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Elixir Insurance depends on contract renewal. For more information, please call our customer service number at 866-250-2005. TTY users call 711. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ATTENTION: If you speak Spanish, language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 866-250-2005 (TTY: 711). ATENCIÓN: si habla Español, los servicios de asistencia lingüística, sin cargo, están disponibles para usted. Llamada 866-250-2005 (TTY: 711).

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Topics: Elixir Insurance, Healthy Choices, Helpful Tips

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