Medicare Cognitive Screening Information

Medicare Cognitive Screening Test Information

Effective January 1, 2011 Medicare now provides an Annual Wellness Visit benefit, in addition to the “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam that occurs only in the first year of joining Medicare. The Annual Wellness Visit benefit includes several preventive health services, including “detection of any cognitive impairment”— essentially, this is a memory screening test.

Memory Assessment Test Questions

MyBrainTest has received several questions from readers on memory assessment tests as part of the Medicare wellness visit. Many early signs of memory loss problems in older adults are first noticed by family members, caregivers, and close friends. Use this memory loss question and symptom checklist to receive a personal report with scoring information:

The Medicare annual wellness visit specifically requires “detection of any cognitive impairment,” defined as “assessment of an individual’s cognitive function by direct observation, with due consideration of information obtained by way of patient report, concerns raised by family members, friends, caretakers or others.” Medicare offers limited policy guidance on how to perform an assessment, beyond specifying the use of a “validated structured assessment tool,” if appropriate. Evidence of whether cognitive assessment takes place at the annual wellness visit is limited, in part because providers bill Medicare for this visit but not for the specific services performed at the visit. Even less well understood is how annual wellness visit use and cognitive assessments vary by Medicare coverage type—that is, in fee-for-service Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans.