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Why Preventive Care Should Be Your Priority

 “Old age is no place for sissies.” – Bette Davis

 People who want to live a healthy, active lifestyle don’t hesitate to eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly, but they may not be as likely to seek preventive care from a doctor. If you are like most people who only go to a physician if they feel ill, have a chronic medical condition, or need a prescription filled, you may be missing out on an important component of your overall health.

You may also not realize that Medicare part B covers annual wellness visits for beneficiaries without a copay, making it accessible for most seniors. What’s more, Medicare also covers an initial preventive visit, called an IPPE, within the first twelve months that you receive Medicare coverage. Have you taken advantage of this benefit? Do you still have time to get that exam? Here are a few reasons why you should stay on top of your preventive medical care.

What Does IPPE Stand For?

 IPPE, or Initial Preventive Physical Exam, is a benefit provided for seniors through Medicare part B and does not require a co-pay. It is a one-time benefit that must be used within a twelve-month period of when Medicare part B coverage begins, and it can be a helpful tool in assessing your overall health and providing a baseline for any medical treatment you may require in the future. The IPPE includes the following components:


  • A complete medical history, which may consist of family history, past diagnoses or surgeries, a list of all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and other supplements, and information about diet and exercise
  • A standardized screening for depression and other mood disorders
  • A review of functional abilities, such as vision, hearing, balance, and activities of daily living, as well as an assessment of home safety and fall risks
  • An exam to check height, weight, blood pressure, visual acuity, and any other factors that may be determined by a medical provider
  • A discussion of end-of-life planning, with information concerning advance directives
  • A written review of the exam findings, along with recommendations for follow-up treatment and further testing, if advised
  • An explanation of other preventive care and procedures covered by Medicare

How Does the IPPE Differ From a Wellness Visit?

 The IPPE is intended as a one-time, initial assessment when you start your Medicare coverage. For many people, especially men who are less likely to seek regular medical care, the IPPE can establish a relationship with a medical provider and emphasize a commitment to well-being.

A wellness visit builds on that relationship and commitment. This annual exam is also covered by Medicare without a copay. This exam provides similar benefits as an IPPE, but it is more focused on disease prevention. It may include a schedule of test screenings, a check for cognitive impairment, a prescription review, and a potential for a treatment plan or additional testing. Patients who receive an IPPE are more likely to continue with wellness visits, which means they may be able to prevent some chronic conditions or have early detection for a better prognosis.

Aren’t They Both Physicals?

A physical exam involves a more hands-on inspection of a patient. A physician may palpate and listen to the body to determine function. It can also be more extensive with a battery of tests run based on age standards rather than patient history. This kind of exam is not covered under Medicare part B.

Another major difference between a physical and a wellness visit or IPPE is the focus. A physical tends to be doctor-driven, administering several tests to evaluate each body system regardless of indication of a concern. A wellness visit, on the other hand, is patient-driven, allowing each person to participate actively in his or her health care and overall wellness. It may seem a more modern approach to health care, and to some extent it is, but it also gives patients a voice and a role in the treatment they receive. It can also help reduce medical expenses because tests and care plans are based on need rather than arbitrary recommendations.

Have you had your IPPE? If you haven’t (and you still have time), schedule it as soon as you can and take responsibility for your own health. Galloway Ridge is also focused on giving residents access to the tools they need for staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With our connection to Duke Center for Living as well as on-site health care services, we make it simple to our residents to take control of their own health for the best quality of life, both now and in the future.