Few seniors go for Medicare wellness visits

Sun Sentinel: By Diane C. Lade, April 02, 2012.

Medicare, long criticized for kicking in only once people got sick, last year started paying primary care physicians to talk to their senior citizen patients once a year about staying healthy.

Apparently, there aren’t a lot of those discussions happening.

An analysis released recently by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services showed only 8 percent of the 2.4 million elder and disabled Floridians on Medicare Part B, which pays for doctor’s visits, had the new wellness screening in 2011.

On a national level, 2.3 million of traditional Medicare’s 35 million participants had their wellness visit last year, or about 6 percent. That compares with 14.5 million, or 41 percent, who had a flu shot and 20 million, or 57 percent, receiving blood testing for cardiovascular disease.

The reason? Experts think it’s a mix of low awareness, physician apathy and limits on how much the screening covers. Read more