Cumberland County’s 23rd annual 50plus Expo seemed to have one particular commodity vendors were eager to give and attendees came to receive: information.
The event, held Wednesday at the Carlisle Expo Center at 100 K St., featured dozens of local organizations with representatives to speak with community members about available resources. These included WellSpan Health, Cumberland County Aging & Community Services, Homeland Center/Homeland at Home, Hillside Foot and Angle Associates LLC, Highmark Blue Shield, Capital Blue Cross, UPMC and more.
“It really is important for people to know what’s available in their own community, because often times you don’t know what’s there until you find a need for it, and if you haven’t had any exposure to it, it’s tough to make a choice,” said Donna Anderson, president of On-Line Publishers, which organized the expo. “So what we’re really hoping to do is provide as much information as possible so that people can make those good choices as they’re looking at the services they may need as they continue to age.”
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It’s access to this information that brings Richard Morrow of Gardners to the event each year.
“There’s a lot of things I learn here about the new types of plans and stuff, you usually get all your info in here,” he said. “When you get older, it helps to know who’s out there.”
Melody Miller of Carlisle attended Wednesday’s event after Morrow told her about it.
She said she found the tables about insurance, Medicare and Medicaid especially helpful.
“A lot of old people don’t deal with the internet or can see it or they don’t get it, so coming in and asking questions face-to-face at a certain table really helps a lot of them out,” she said.
Morrow said he uses a flip phone and doesn’t have much service where he lives, which makes it difficult to access this information.
“I kind of rely on [the] up close and personal. … That’s why a lot of people probably come here,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic made the “up close and personal” conversations much more of a challenge, and Miller said it “absolutely” impacted this access to information.
Joey Miller, a medicare field services representative with Capital Blue Cross, said he’s noticed an increase in confusion about Medicare since the pandemic.
“With Medicare, you want to make sure you have as many face-to-face conversations as possible because it gets people to understand the information a little bit easier,” he said.
The confusion has been evident to agents and brokers everywhere, Joey Miller said.
However, as the country continues its slow return to pre-pandemic operations, he said Capital Blue Cross has had more abundant opportunities to answer questions and increase understanding about Medicare.
“For how confusing [Medicare] is, it’s always great to be able to get in front of somebody, go over the types of plans, but also to know exactly what type of insurance they’ll be able to be relatable to,” Joey Miller said.
He said the number one question he received throughout Wednesday’s event was “What is Medicare?” followed by “What type of plan would work best for me?”
The return to in-person sessions helps clear up some of that confusion.
Anderson said that after cancelling the event in 2020 and seeing a slower return last year, this year’s expo had a “great attendance” of nearly 1,000 people. She said that while the event hasn’t changed much as a result of COVID-19, several of the organizations featured at the expo have changed the services they offer.
Aside from information, the 50plus Expo also offered other draws.
“There’s many things happening here today because our primary goal is to educate seniors so that they can make informed choices,” Anderson said. “We have people here running all sorts of things, everything from financial planning to pre-planning your funeral, retirement communities, people can get flu shots here today, they can get COVID boosters here today and they can learn about the things that are about to come up on their journey through life.”
The expo also featured seminars about Medicare basics and the importance of staying active, followed by an Elvis Presley tribute performance by Jeff Krick Jr.
Morrow said he didn’t have a favorite part of the event, though he enjoyed watching the Elvis performance and said the vendors were all very nice.
Melody Miller said passing Miracle Ear’s hearing test was the highlight of her day.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said of the expo as a whole. “I’m going to come back next year, and I think the Women’s Expo (which is also organized by On-Line Publishers and will take place Nov. 12 at the same location) is next month? I’m coming.”
Maddie Seiler is a news reporter for The Sentinel and cumberlink.com covering Carlisle and Newville. You can contact her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at: @SeilerMadalyn