One of the new benefits made available to Medicare beneficiaries this year provides for free preventative health checks for seniors. However, some seniors may be unclear about which benefits they can receive for free and could be hit with unexpected bills.
Free treatments include colonoscopies and, for women, mammograms and pelvic exams. In addition, Medicare beneficiaries can now receive a free annual preventative “wellness visit,” a basic exam that checks a patient’s height, weight, body mass index and blood pressure. It also includes a brief medical history but is not a complete physical, which may come as a surprise to some patients.
The purpose of this visit is to identify possible new health concerns rather than to discuss already diagnosed diseases. Longer discussions about a patient’s existing health problems would require a second paid visit. If a doctor does perform services that are not part of the free wellness check, a beneficiary will face a bill they perhaps were not expecting.
To ensure they are not surprised by charges related to a visit, beneficiaries can consult medicare.gov/share-the-health for a list of free services. Furthermore, when making an appointment with a health-care provider, Medicare beneficiaries should specify that they are seeking a free service.