Annual Physical vs. Medicare Wellness Exam: Why You Need Both.

There are two important appointments you need to make (and keep) each year—your annual physical and Medicare wellness visits. Both can help identify problems before they become more serious, but they vary in their approach for gathering information.

Annual physicals are more “physically” extensive exams typically performed by a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. Medicare wellness visits, usually performed by a nurse, include assessments but don’t include the “physical” tests where the provider has to physically touch you. The purpose of the Medicare wellness visit is to paint a picture of your current state of health and to create a baseline for future care.

What to expect during your annual physical:

  • Height and weight measurement check
  • Blood pressure check
  • BMI measurement review
  • Medical and family history review
  • Risk factor assessments
  • Vital sign check
  • Physical exams such as head and neck, abdominal or neurological exam

What to expect during your Medicare wellness visit:

  • Height and weight measurement check
  • Blood pressure check
  • Assessment of risk factors and identifying the need for any further tests on screening
  • Health risk assessment review
  • Review and update lists of providers and prescriptions
  • Review signs of cognitive impairment
  • Hearing and vision screenings
  • Screening schedule set-up for appropriate preventative services (as needed)