Letter: Keep Medicare wellness visits with your PCP
I am writing to make sure patients are aware of what is really happening when they attend one of the "Life Line Screening" events held at local churches.
The senior population believes they are only receiving screening tests for carotid artery disease, osteoporosis, etc., when in fact the company is also performing (and billing Medicare for) a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit. Most seniors are not aware that this makes them ineligible for their comprehensive Annual Wellness Visit at their primary care office. We strongly believe your Annual Medicare Wellness Visit should happen at your Primary Care Office, NOT at the Life Line Screening.
Annual Wellness Visits with your primary care provider are valuable to keep your medical record up to date and make sure your physician has a record of all your preventive screenings. Unlike Life Line Screening, your primary care office can provide important referrals to community programs to keep you safe and healthy in your home, or to discuss your wishes for end-of-life treatment. These sensitive conversations should be with your primary care office with whom you have an ongoing relationship, not a company that comes to town for one day. Your primary care providers know you and can provide guidance based on your medical history and the personal relationship you have developed within the office.
When I inform patients that they are not eligible for their Annual Wellness Visit with us this year because they received it at the Life Line Screening, they are usually surprised. They often have no idea that what they understood to be just a screening test was actually an Annual Wellness Visit. One of our patients asked, "Shouldn't they have told us they were performing the Annual Wellness Visit?" They tell me "I had no idea this was happening when I was there, it's not comprehensive like what I receive at your office."
I ask all seniors to please be aware and informed consumers of these "one-day-only Life Line Screenings coming into your community." They should not replace your Annual Wellness Visit, and Medicare will pay for these screenings through your primary care office if it is medically necessary.
Say no to having your Annual Wellness Visit with Life Line Screening. Keep your healthcare where it belongs — in your primary care office.
The author is practice administrator for Dalton Medical Associates LLP
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