Health Insurance Matters: Medicare & a Movie – A Great Success

Health Insurance Matters / Harry P. Thal

The Fourth Annual event is now in the history books. The educational Medicare meeting drew 114 people, with guests coming up from Ridgecrest and Bakersfield.

Most people arrived early and received gift bags loaded with goodies ranging from flashlight pens, paper (for meeting notes), one-week pill containers, gel cell phone pockets, candy, etc. Passing up the concession stand at a movie theater is always hard, but Harry provided popcorn and drinks for all participants.

The seminar was very instructional providing information about Medicare for the people soon eligible, as well as many of the changes and benefits that will be available in 2019 much better than in the current year. There was a greater, expanded presentation of the plans available as GemCare is now going to be once again available in the Kern Valley. It will be affiliated with three insurance plans.

Most of the HMO plans in Kern County will have, in addition to the traditional doctor and hospital benefits, many add on extras at no cost, including, meals following a hospital stay, Emergency Response Systems, 24 hour doctor access via telephone, free transportation to Ridgecrest and Bakersfield doctor appointments, and so many others.

2019 will be a great year for people on Medi-Cal and Medicare. Many plans have lowered the cost of prescription drugs, including many at $0. Health Net, Brand New Day, Anthem Blue Cross and Humana are all providing benefit packages, with each trying to outdo the other. There are definitely winners! Under new rules, people in this category can change plans three times a year.
Another HMO category is that people with chronic conditions such as diabetes and certain heart issues can get enhanced benefits year-round by changing plans monthly if necessary. Some of these plans offer opportunity for over the counter generic products by mail order or at Walmart. Save hundreds of dollars a year.

Harry also mentioned that Kern County will now have the Medicare Advantage PPO option. This may be a very good alternative to people living and using the medical facilities in Ridgecrest and vicinity than the (monthly premium) costly Medicare Supplements.

Assisted by staff, there was a raffle of prizes donated by Cheryl’s Restaurant, Something Sweet, Nelda’s Diner, Sierra Gateway Market, The Reel Cinema and Home Goods. Thank you to all who helped make this a special afternoon for our area seniors and guests.

Following the presentation, the Harry P. Thal Insurance Agency staff provided free lamination services for those flimsy Medicare Cards. Harry answered individual questions and then those who chose, got refills on the popcorn and drinks and watched a private screening of the comedy Crazy Rich Asians.

Harry P. Thal, MA, is a licensed insurance broker in California (0621106) and 24 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