Health Insurance Matters: Insurance Black Friday

Insurance Black Friday

That is what I am calling Friday, December 7. The true meaning of “Black Friday” is that the Friday following Thanksgiving, most retail stores in malls were to finally turn a profit for the year as shoppers swarmed the malls for the post-Thanksgiving sales. The term “black” now seems to apply to just sales anywhere, and of course the online enterprises then declared their “Cyber Monday.” As they also seem to all have a “Black Friday” as well, it is a shopper’s time to spend money for the pre-Christmas mad house.

So, as Friday, December 7, is the last day of the Annual Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), I am declaring it as my personal Black Friday.
Josephine called me last week, the sneak, and asked me to compare her current Medicare Advantage plan against the one she heard so much about from Humana. She didn’t “hear” about it at all, she was just inundated with advertising. I agreed to compare, but in so doing, I discovered she had already succumbed to their advertising and had enrolled over the phone with their sales people. I found that she was not gaining any significant new benefits, and in fact was losing a few. More importantly, her prescription costs were going to triple with the Humana plan. She switched back!

The rule for the AEP is the last application submitted is the one that will count. People just don’t seem to get the fact that health insurance agents, who are doing their job, are here locally, and support the clients throughout the year. The solicitors from Los Angeles and Bakersfield do not know our valley physicians, don’t know the specialists, and don’t really care for us, other than the commission sales they get.

One of the opportunities that will go on past Friday is the Special Needs plans. The most flexible plan is for those people with diabetes or even, pre-diabetics. They will have a year-round opportunity to change plans. The same holds true for many people with chronic heart problems. I am also working on a Medicare Advantage plan for people with dementia and another for other severe mental health issues. They will be available in the early spring.

While I’m talking about dates, another cut off for a January 1 effective date for individual (under age 65) plans is coming up. The last day to apply for an individual or family health plan is December 14 (another Black Friday.) The actual cut-off is the 15th, but that’s a Saturday this year. If you miss this date for an individual or family plan, you can still enroll for a few more weeks, but your plan will not start until February.

If you will be turning 65 in the next several months, please do not panic. The Annual Enrollment Period is specifically for people who are already participating in the Medicare program. You, the newbies, are entitled to your own “initial Enrollment period,” which begins three months before your 65th birthday. Also, those people planning on retirement some time during the year will have a “special enrollment period.” So, just give us a call, and I’ll walk you through the process.
The process for enrolling in Medicare Parts A and B has become more difficult, and those who wait till the last minute to enroll in Medicare will be surprised to learn that it just may not happen for those who wait until the last weeks to enroll. Call me for assistance and counsel. I never charge a fee.

Harry P. Thal, MA, is a licensed insurance broker in California (0621106) and 27 other states. His offices are in Kernville. He is a member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and Past-President of the Kern Association of Health Underwriters. He may be reached at 760-376-2100, e-mail or visit him on the web at