Well Visits/Checkups/Health Maintenance Exams/ Annual Wellness Visits (AWV)/Physicals/Well Child Visits
What Are These?
As Primary Care Physicians, we have always stressed the importance of regular visits with your physician to keep you healthy. These visits go by a variety of names, depending on your age and depending on with whom you speak. These well visits may be called a Well Child Visit, a Physical, a Checkup, a Health Maintenance Exam, or if you are of Medicare age (over 65)- An Annual Wellness Visit. As of January 1, 2014, because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” every patient is entitled to at least one yearly well visit with his or her primary care physician. Women can have one well visit with their primary physician and a separate exam with a gynecologist for a PAP smear if they see separate providers for these. Infants and children less than 3 years of age need more frequent visits. These visits DO NOT REQUIRE A COPAY and DO NOT COUNT TOWARD YOUR INSURANCE DEDUCTIBLE.
Why do we recommend these visits?
We recommend Well Child Visits according to that recommended by the Bright Futures Guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
For young infants and children, these well visits provide a time for parents to discuss their child’s feeding habits, growth, and developmental skills. These visits provide a time for the physician to show you your child’s growth on a growth chart, counsel you as to whether your child’s development is “on track,” and discuss the recommended immunizations needed to keep your child healthy. Infants are seen at birth, 2 weeks of age, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 2 years and 2.5 years.
As your child becomes older, visits with your physician may help to sort through school and peer related issues. Vision Screens, Hearing Screens, and Developmental Screens are recommended at certain ages. Children 3-12 years of age should be seen once every year for a well visit.
For adolescents, these annual visits provide a time for the teenager to learn how to express their concerns to their doctor; this will help them to develop the skills needed to successfully navigate a visit with a physician as a young adult. Medical and psychosocial concerns can be discussed with the adolescent patients at the time of these visits. Teenagers should be seen once every year for a well visit.
Illinois State Law requires a specific healthcare form to be completed by a physician before entrance into licensed daycare, preschool, kindergarten, 6th grade, 9th grade or when changing to a new school. In addition, any teen that plays high school sports in Illinois needs the IESA sports form completed yearly. We have both forms in our office.
Over time, these visits provide the opportunity for parents, children, and teens to develop a trusting, longitudinal relationship in order to provide high quality medical care on an ongoing basis.
Most women, ages 21-64 years, should have an annual well woman check, even if a PAP smear isn’t done every year.
Healthy Adults, ages 21-64 years, should have a well visit/checkup which would include evaluation of weight, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol testing at least every 2-3 years.
If you are an adult with ongoing medical problems, please discuss your visit schedule with your physician.
Adults who have Medicare need to have an Annual Wellness Visit. The Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) exam is a once per year Medicare visit that is dedicated to wellness and prevention. It allows the physician and the patient time to discuss issues that we often do not have time to explore during the regular office visit. These issues include topics such fall prevention, hearing and vision screening, depression screening, family and social history, a review of other treating physician’s notes and care plans, and a discussion about Healthcare Power of Attorney (also called Advanced Directives.) All of these issues take time to evaluate and are an important part of keeping you well. Often, there may not be a physical exam done at this visit. If you need to address other medical problems at the time of the AWV, the physician may make time to discuss these as well.