Last December I was scheduled for my Welcome to Medicare exam. Because I had lacked medical insurance for nearly three years I had some catching up to do. After much conferring and being put on hold and eventually being told they would have to call me back with an answer, my doc's scheduler finally called after a couple of days. Yes, she said, my annual exam could be combined in the same visit with the Welcome to Medicare exam. Excellent!, I thought. Two birds with one stone. After the appointment, though, I was left thinking the opposite. Since the two exams were combined, all I could sort out as being different from my normal annual exam were a few items. Bear with me, please, because I am aware that I am much younger than the average new Medicare patient. I became eligible for Medicare eighteen months after I was approved for disability status according to Social Security Disability parameters. My disability relates directly to the nerve, soft tissue and tendon damage in my hands and wrists that render me mostly unemployable. Otherwise I am remarkably healthy. For which I am grateful. But this disparity between how I generally appear and the level of pain I constantly experience coupled with the great difficulty I have with the smallest of everyday tasks can be frustrating. Anyway. The last thing I want is pity and I have veered off topic. The only items different from my regular exam were these. A hearing test. The nurse administering the exam stood across the room with her back to me and said a few words to see if I could understand her. I could. I was asked to rise from a sitting position and walk across the room, touch the door and return to the chair and sit down again. I was timed for this task. I passed with flying colors. I was also asked a number of questions meant to determine my mental and physical state. Was I often depressed or lonely? Did I live alone? Did I have difficulty with stairs or was tripping on rugs a problem? I was also given information on setting up a living will and other end of life issues. After the exam I had a number of whys on my mind. Why didn't they do a blood draw to determine baselines for iron (anemia) and blood sugar (diabetes) and cholesterol (heart health) levels? Aren't these the most basic indicators of chronic health problems among the elderly? They didn't collect a urine sample which can indicate infection as well as other pertinent information. Which led me to wonder, knowing what I had paid for a typical office visit in the past, just how much was my doctor reimbursed by Medicare for this Welcome to Medicare exam? Which, in my opinion, was pretty darn lame as far as establishing my general level of health. After reading this, I proceeded to click on links hoping to find out just what it is worth to my doc to perform this exam. And have been unable to determine the dollar value. It's almost like I need a keyboard shortcut labeled divining rod. At any rate, I have been welcomed to Medicare. And left feeling as though I should have at least been offered a cup of tea and a cookie.