These days, getting older also comes with a rap sheet of health problems--including a chronic illness or disease. In fact, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) says that 80% of seniors have at least one chronic illness to deal with. In a country full of rising healthcare costs, how can chronic diseases be managed and prevented? (Without costing a fortune, that is.) As of March 2018, doctors are pushing a new protocol for elderly patients: annual wellness visits.
Whether you live on your own or in assisted living, the Affordable Care Act ensures there isn't any kind of copay for yearly preventative tests like mammograms or physicals (although that may change in 2019 since this statute has been repealed). Anybody with Medicare Plan B gets a free "welcome to Medicare" wellness visit within their first year of signing up, and annual visits are covered after you've had the plan for 12 months.
During these visits, doctors have the chance to review your medical history and work out a care plan for preventing and managing health problems. These plans are personalized and vary depending on a patient's current health status and capability. Along with that, preventative tests like colonoscopies and mammograms don't get forgotten about or put off.
A surgeon with Piedmont Physicians White Oaks named Dr. Samer Blackmon is in full support of seniors going to yearly wellness visits, as she said this week, "Male smokers need aortic aneurysm screenings...patients that have diabetes need ABI circulation testing," Blackmon said. These are the kind of tests that probably would never get done otherwise unless a patient attended yearly wellness visits, and had a doctor review their medical history.
On top of that, the medical world is constantly changing. New vaccines and treatments are getting made all the time--some of which could improve a senior's quality of life. This is one of the biggest reasons that doctors are pushing annual wellness visits: they can discuss new treatment options with patients--which otherwise would never be brought up.
The increased risk for chronic illness and disease is only proof that closer attention needs to paid to your health status, doctors say. Wellness visits not only help you stay on top of health issues, but they also help you keep an updated medical history and seek out new treatment options. Healthcare plans like Medicare Part B can make sure that these annual visits won't cost seniors fortune too.