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Annual Wellness Visit Makes Its Debut
By Jackie Miller, RHIA, CCS-P, CPC, PCS

The Medicare program's slow expansion into preventive services took a giant leap forward with the new Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) benefit, established by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Until now, Medicare has covered only the Initial Preventive Physical Examination (IPPE), also known as the "Welcome to Medicare" exam. This is a one-time benefit and has to occur during the patient's first 12 months of Medicare coverage. Although Medicare covers certain screening tests (such as mammograms) on an ongoing basis, there was previously no coverage for routine physical exams other than the IPPE.

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