What is a Difference Between a Medicare Wellness Exam and a Physical Exam? banner

By westgate April 14, 2021

What is a Difference Between a Medicare Wellness Exam and a Physical Exam?

If you have had Medicare Part B for 12 months or longer, you are eligible to have free Medicare Wellness visits one time each year (if your healthcare provider accepts Medicare assignments). At least 11 full months must have passed between visits to take advantage of this benefit.

You may be wondering how a Medicare Wellness exam differs from a general physical exam. Although similar services may be performed during each visit, the difference is that one type of exam can be proactive and the other reactive.

Proactive: Medicare Wellness Exam

Prevention is the name of the game with Medicare Wellness exams. In the initial exams, your doctor will review your medical and family history to know what risk factors may already be present. Baseline assessments of your height, weight, blood pressure and other measurements will be taken so any changes can be closely monitored. You may be asked to fill out a Health Risk Assessment. Based on the results, your doctor may recommend health screenings, especially if you are at higher risk for conditions such as:

  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis B or C
  • HIV
  • Cancer (breast, lung prostate. colorectal, etc.)

Your doctor will work with you to develop personalized health plans so you can live your best life. This may even include counseling for tobacco, alcohol or drug abuse.

Reactive: Physical Exam

You might schedule a physical exam if you are experiencing worrisome physical symptoms. Unless you are at high risk of disease or have an ongoing medical condition, it may not be necessary to have a full physical every year. The same type of medical and family history information will be gathered and measurements and vital signs such as height, weight, blood pressure, etc., will be taken. Your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs, look at the condition of your eyes/ears/nose/mouth/throat/lymph nodes and feel for abnormalities in your body. You may need to have bloodwork or urinalysis done to help your doctor diagnose conditions.

What you may not receive in a physical exam is a personalized, detailed plan to either improve or maintain your current physical or mental health status. Of course, if you ask for this type of help during your appointment, you may be able to receive guidance that same visit, be able to schedule a follow-up appointment or be referred to a specialist if needed.

Westgate Family Physicians are a team of family doctors in Spartanburg, SC, that provide Medicare Wellness Exams for qualified adults and physicals for people of all ages (including well child exams). If the diagnosis or treatment is out of our scope, we will refer you to a specialist for further testing.

If you would like to schedule a Medicare Wellness exam in Spartanburg, contact us at (864) 574-0070 or click here to make an appointment. Our patients are like part of our family and we welcome the opportunity to help you live a healthy, happy life.