Take Charge of Your Health
On Thursday June 14 I was a panelist at an important community health forum “Take Charge of Your Health” sponsored by VillageCare and New York University. It was important because it was an opportunity to educate the public on what they need to do to assume some responsibility for their own well being. One of the topics I addressed was the Annual Wellness Visit which since January 2011has been a free entitlement to all Medicare recipients. In a group of about 100 people, I asked how many knew about the Annual Wellness Visit and about 6 people raised their hands. A recent national study, “How Does It Feel: The Older American Healthcare Experience” done by the Hartford Foundation indicated that only 32% of seniors had heard of the Annual Wellness Visit and less than 18% had actually had one.
This visit with a primary health care provider has no co-pay and no deductible. It is not a physical exam and does not take the place of an annual physical check-up. It is a conversation between a patient and a healthcare provider to be sure preventive screenings and immunizations are current . It is an opportunity to be sure that care is coordinated with any other provider/specialist the patient is seeing. It is an opportunity to see if something has changed in the patient’s life: a sister who developed breast cancer, a brother with coronary heart disease or any factors which might raise the risk of developing a particular disease. It is an opportunity to discuss any problems being encountered in daily activities.
We need to be sure that all older adults know of this Medicare benefit and encourage them to take advantage of it. This visit is one more opportunity to promote health and help older adults to be at their optimum levels of function.