Workshops & Speaker Biographies

Workshop Descriptions

Affordable Care Act/Covered California 
Susan Shargel and Angie Blanchette

The rules are changing. If you have previously been refused health insurance due to medical issues, or if you're one of the under-30-year-olds who've never had their own insurance, now is the time to learn about the Affordable Care Act. In January 2014 you can use the new individual exchanges – Covered CA – with no rating for medical conditions and no exclusions for coverage. You may even be eligible for premium assistance.  Join us in this workshop to learn about your options.

Financial Aspects of Marital and Non-Marital Partnerships
Frederick Hertz

Whether you're married, registered as a domestic partner, or simply cohabiting, living together raises issues of financial and property partnerships. In this workshop, we will review the legal options available to couples, both opposite-sex and same-sex, summarize the financial obligations (and benefits) of marriage, and provide guidance for couples seeking to establish a fair, lasting, and financially equitable romantic partnership.

Long-Term Care Insurance
Todd Friedman and Wendy L. McLaughlin

Did you know that the number one threat to many people's assets is future healthcare expenses not covered by Medicare?

You've worked hard building your family and your retirement savings. Yet in the years ahead, the need for long-term care could put a significant burden on both. This workshop will look at the options you have in designing a long-term care policy, including daily benefits, elimination periods, benefits periods, inflation options, and shared care riders.

With a long-term care insurance policy, you get the security of knowing that, should the need arise, you'll have help covering those significant costs. By understanding your options, you can control your premiums and get the coverage you need.

Kenneth L. Gardner and John Fisher

Medicare services are actually provided through four different programs, Medicare Parts A, B, C and D. Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Part C) provide additional benefits not offered under Original Medicare. Understanding how these programs work together (and when they don't) can make your Medicare experience much easier.

Medicare's Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) begins October 15 and ends on December 7; during this period, Medicare beneficiaries may choose among various plan options. In this workshop, we will discuss how these programs work, what your options are, and what you should do now to make sure you get the best benefits for the lowest cost next year.

Social Security 
Carroll L. Estes, PhD and Catherine Pinkas

As you near retirement, one of the biggest financial decisions you'll need to make is when to begin receiving your Social Security retirement benefits. With pensions disappearing, Social Security remains the major source of guaranteed lifetime retirement income for most Americans, so it's important to take the time to explore your options and make an informed, well-reasoned decision.
In this workshop, you'll learn:

  • What your full retirement age is and how your benefit is determined;
  • How retiring earlier than, or later than, your full retirement age will affect your Social Security benefit;
  • Why it's important to plan together with your spouse, and strategies you can use to boost retirement and survivor's benefits; and
  • How working after you begin receiving Social Security could affect how much you receive.

You will also learn more about the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and what the safety net of Social Security and Medicare means to all of us. This workshop will look at current policy surrounding these programs, and identify action steps anyone can take to advocate for them.

Speaker Biographies

Angie Blanchette

Angie Blanchette

Angie Blanchette is Covered California's new Regional Manager for Outreach and Media Relations in the San Francisco Bay Area. She possesses more than 25 years of marketing and communications experience, and has orchestrated many successful campaigns for entities in the public and private sectors, including the California Environmental Protection Agency, Caltrans, California Energy Commission and Kaiser Permanente.

Carroll L. Estes, PhD

Carroll L. Estes

Carroll Estes is a professor at UCSF, author, lecturer and longtime advocate for those who are most vulnerable in our society. Estes is past president of the Gerontological Society of America, the American Society on Aging, and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and past chair of The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Her latest two books (both co-edited) are Health Policy: Crisis and Reform and Social Insurance and Social Justice: Social Security, Medicare and the Campaign Against Entitlements. The recipient of numerous awards, Estes has been named "A Woman Who Could Be President" by the San Francisco League of Women Voters and "A Woman of Action" by the National Organization for Women (NOW).

John Fisher

John Fisher

John Fisher, Marketing Manager with Brown & Toland Physicians in San Francisco, has more than 20 years of experience in the managed care industry, including key leadership roles in sales, marketing and management. John is responsible for the development and execution of marketing strategies designed to increase commercial and Medicare Advantage membership for Brown & Toland's clinically integrated community network of private practitioners. In this role, Fisher ensures the group's marketing activities meet both state and federal regulatory requirements. Fisher has extensive experience with Medicare Advantage marketing and comprehensive knowledge of the CMS Medicare Marketing guidelines established by the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act (MIPAA). Fisher sits on the California Association of Physician Groups (CAPG) Public Relations Committee and chairs the Marketing Committee for San Francisco Hep B Free, a citywide coalition formed to raise awareness and screen and vaccinate for Hepatitis B.

Prior to joining Brown & Toland, Fisher was director of sales for UPMC Health Plan, the insurance division of UPMC Health System in Pittsburgh, PA, where he had direct oversight of Medicare and Medicaid managed care sales. He held a similar role with UPMC's commercial line of business, having responsibility for 45,000 HMO, PPO and POS members.

Fisher previously worked for HealthAmerica in Pennsylvania, where his experience included sales, management, staff training and development, broker oversight and implementation of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools.

Todd Friedman

Todd Friedman

Todd Friedman is a Financial Services Professional with MassMutual Financial Group (CA Insurance License #0H07141). He is a registered representative and provides insurance, investment and retirement advice and guidance to individuals, families and business owners. Friedman has more than 25 years of leadership in financial services, healthcare and technology sectors from Fortune 5 companies to start-ups.

Friedman is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a bachelor of science in engineering management.

Ken Gardner

Kenneth L. Gardner

Ken Gardner is a Health Insurance Specialist for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs. He oversees Medicare health and drug plans in California and Arizona, and frequently speaks to community and professional groups on Medicare topics as well as the new Health Insurance Exchanges. He has more than 25 years of experience in health care organizations and the managed care and insurance industries.

Frederick Hertz

Frederick Hertz

Frederick Hertz is a lawyer, mediator and author with offices in Oakland and San Francisco, California whose work focuses on property co-ownership and financial relationships between siblings, families, spouses and domestic partners, business partners, friends, and unmarried couples. He provides both transaction and negotiation counsel and also serves as a mediator and arbitrator in these areas.

Mr. Hertz is the co-author of three books from Nolo Press, A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples; Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples; and Making it Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions, as well as the American Bar Association publication Counseling Unmarried Partners: A Guide to Effective Representation.  Mr. Hertz has appeared as a panelist for programs by California Continuing Education, Rutter Group, California State Bar, and Bar Association of San Francisco. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today show, All Things Considered, and Talk of the Nation, and has been cited in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Advocate, and other national publications.

Wendy L. McLaughlin

Wendy L. McLaughlin

Wendy L. McLaughlin has been as insurance agent since 1987. She helps people plan for retirement including protecting their assets with long-term care insurance. She holds CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter), ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) and CASL (Chartered Advisor for Senior Living) designations form the American College. She also helps people with life, health and disability insurance.

Catherine Pinkas

Catherine Pinkas

Catherine Pinkas has been actively involved in financial management for over 20 years. As an instructor in finance and business management, Catherine offers experience in helping individuals plan for their financial futures. She assists with financial strategies, insurance and tax-deferred college education savings. Catherine is actively involved in Habitat for Humanity and other community efforts to assist families in need. Her goal is to provide both support and education to her clients for their financial lives.

Susan Shargel

Susan Shargel

Susan Shargel is president and founder of Shargel & Co. Insurance Services, an award-winning San Francisco boutique benefits insurance brokerage.

Susan has advocated for health reform since the 1980s. She received the 2010 Public Policy Award for her advocacy work from Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP). She has also co-chaired the Jewish Learning Works (formerly Bureau of Jewish Education) Health Care Task Force focusing on health care issues for Jewish education professionals.