Medicare Expo

California Statewide Medicare Expo Hits the Right “Virtual” Tone
August event attracts 330 online participants

By Linda Hubbard Lalande

Starting with an opening meditation (courtesy of Naama O. Pozniak), the California Statewide Medicare Expo general session opened electronically on August 26 with an impressive 330 people in attendance from around the state.

Led by David Meltzer and Peter Bauer, the general session was a great overview of the conference and what to expect. With an array of sessions available over two days, it was educational and encouraging during these challenging times of a pandemic, a resulting economic downturn and a divisive presidential election.

Embracing technology was the name of the game, with a fun Bingo adventure that encouraged participants to visit each of the 22 virtual booths in the exhibition hall to pick up Bingo clues—an entertaining incentive to see what was offered.

In the Southern Calif. breakout, host Nathan Carlson invited feedback from participants about why they are California Association of Health Underwriters (CAHU) members. Jose Rodriguez enthusiastically shared, “I’m a member because I care about people. I watched my grandma struggle to get coverage, and became passionate about helping people get healthcare. Law making starts here, with CAHU helping our voices be heard. Our licenses have huge power in Washington, D.C. CAHU makes me a better advisor every day.”

Medicare Advantage Managed Care HMO plans were explained by two doctors who shared their carrier perspective: Dr. Berensen from Regal Health Care and Dr. Rebhun from Optum Health.

When asked the advantages of this value-based care, Dr. Berenson said the large network of providers, assisted by a team of coaches who deliver coordinated care give patients the best outcomes. Dr. Rebhun concurred, saying integrated care allows Optum to be an advocate for the patient. “This patient centered care depends on agents to dig deep into each client’s needs to determine if an HMO makes sense for them, to help them prioritize their needs,” he said.

What should agents consider in placing clients into a Medicare Advantage HMO plan? Dr. Rebhun replied, “Know your benefits, know your clients and match them with the most comprehensive plan to meet their needs.” Dr. Berensen agreed. “Know your client, prioritize their needs, and know and believe in what you have to offer,” he said. “Build relationships in all directions, and steer your clients appropriately. This will help value-based models flourish around the country, with the best outcomes possible for patients.”

Other sessions covered relevant topics like diversity and heart in recruiting with “People First Recruiting and Mentoring,” by Kathleen Quinn Votaw, who coined the phrase, “If they don’t fit you, they’re gonna quit you.”

Another session on Medicare by Patrick Burns explained that Medicare is the fastest growing part of the industry. DeDe Kennedy noted that members need to support the CAHU political action committee (PAC), “We’re Stronger Together,” to stay on the legislator’s radar and stay relevant. Insurance industry professionals need to be ready for changes, especially with the presidential election on the near horizon. The legislative update given by Faith Borges and Brad Davis of California Advocates later in the summit explained the Healthy California For All initiative to create a unified financing system, and how it might affect the role of agents.

“Know your benefits, know your clients and match them
with the most comprehensive plan to meet their needs.”

Dr. Rebhun, Optum Health

 Resources for more information include:

Many more helpful sessions and trainings were offered, on Reverse Mortgages, Estate Planning, Covered California, Marketing for Medicare, business planning, social media, cyber security, product training with Anthem, Western Health Advantage and more. Of particular interest was the Marijuana for Medicare Beneficiaries presented by Elisabeth Mack. She expertly explained the advantages of cannabis as medicine, and how its rich, cumulative effects help patients overcome addiction to opioids, relieve pain and anxiety and much more. She offers coaching for patients to help determine the best methods and dosing to address their health care needs, with scientifically proven benefits.

Bookending the initial two days was an informative session on “Meditation as a New Way for Wellness” by Naama O. Pozniak, who had opened each morning with a brief meditation. Naama presented how meditation is a way we can lower stress, improve concentration, and enhance health and wellbeing.

Rounding out the event on Friday was “Ethics the Musical,” by Bobbi Kaelin—a great way to deliver an important message.

Thanks to the committee that put this together for all Medicare agents in the state of California, (hosted by most of the California State Local Chapters) who mastered the technology wave required to host virtual events: Dawn McFarland, Ron Illenberger, Rosamaria Marrujo, Marti Murray, Norm Sheehan, Dan Furtado, Leslie Williams, Angie Caruso, Randy Hunt, Kenneth Coker, Cathy Little, Sue Wakamoto Lee, Jean Chariton, Laura Murphy, Lucille Maravilla, Craig Gussin, Nathan Carlson, Naama O. Pozniak, June Taylor and Ross Pendergraft.

“Humana was proud to sponsor the 2020 California Statewide EXPO supporting our broker partners,” said Tom Homsy, director of Medicare Sales. “We were given the opportunity to listen to brokers regarding some of the challenges with this annual enrollment period (AEP). Humana stands ready to support our broker partners throughout enrollment and all of 2021. That said, we are excited about this 2021 AEP season. We anticipate it will be like none of us have experienced before, with local and national elections, civil unrest and the COVID-19 virus. Humana has high regard for our broker partners throughout California and know they will do the right thing in this environment for the safety of our senior community. Humana is confident that our broker partners will have an extraordinary AEP and we look forward to being a part of your success. Feel free to contact me at 818-458-7983 or by”

Folks can still access the sessions by registering at: aspx?id=1678

Sessions will be available until Thanksgiving!

Questions? Contact Dawn McFarland at 1-805-701-1229 or