Episode 372 Toni King Understanding Medicare & VA Benefits Transcript

This transcript is from episode 372 with guest Toni King.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today, my guest is Toni King. Toni has dedicated herself to educating individuals about The complexities of Medicare and ensuring that they have, uh, the information that they need to make decisions about their healthcare coverage.

And through her workshops and consultations, Tony emphasizes that Medicare is not a cookie cutter. And she underscores the importance of understanding the nuances of Medicare to avoid costly mistakes and veterans with VA benefits should [00:01:00] also pay attention to what Tony has to say as in her words, what you don’t know will hurt you.

So before we get into all of this information about, uh, Medicare and how it applies to veterans, especially veterans who maybe have, uh, VA benefits and other coverage like that, uh, first I want to welcome you to the show, Tony, I’m glad to have you here.

Toni King: Well, how are you doing? It’s nice to be here, Scott.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, I’m, well, I’m glad to have you here. And, um, you know, I think, uh, this is a topic that. Maybe not enough people really pay too much attention to, um, especially, uh, especially folks who are covered by VA benefits and maybe just don’t think that they need to worry about any other types of coverage. And maybe they do, maybe they don’t, like you said, it’s not cookie cutter, uh, coverage.

And so, um, I want to maybe just spend a little bit of time with you and, um, Kind of unravel some of the, uh, the mysteries and [00:02:00] the complexities behind, you know, the Medicare coverage, um, and, and make sure that, that the folks out there who are listening, aren’t making mistakes when it comes to their coverage or missing deadlines and missing, uh, you know, opportunities for, um, you know, reduce costs and things like that.

So, uh, let’s talk about, uh, I mentioned this a couple of times now that you’re, you’re. motto, I guess, uh, Medicare is not cookie cutter. Um, so why is it important for people, especially veterans and their families, to understand this concept when they’re navigating their, uh, healthcare coverage options?

Toni King: Because people think that Medicare is the same for everyone. And they get bombarded when they’re either getting on Medicare or you’ve got Medicare’s annual enrollment period, which is from October 15th through December 7th. Everyone wants you to think that it’s all the same for everybody. Everybody’s checking account is not the same.[00:03:00]

Everybody’s prescription drugs are not the same, so you can’t say that your Medicare is going to be the same. We have had various people come to the office. I had a gentleman come in my office about four years ago who was a NASA engineer because I’m in Texas. We got clear light where NASA is at. And he was there when Neil Armstrong went on the moon and he was confused.

If he can get Neil Armstrong on the moon, why should he? I mean, seriously, he didn’t enroll in Medicare past 65. So I see all sorts of different situations and people need to learn how to personalize their Medicare to meet their needs, especially veterans. Because they sit there all the hours that they’re in the doctor’s office, and they all talk and sometimes you can get the wrong information.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. A lot of times you, you get that, that situation going where, where one person [00:04:00] has figured it out for their situation and what they have going on in their life, and they. They think that they know it all now because they’ve, they’ve, you know, figured it out, but then they go and give that information to somebody else who has a completely different situation.

Maybe they have different needs and, and, and everything, and they give them all that information. And now that person thinks they figured it out because they’ve gotten this, uh, This cheap advice, maybe, right? But, um, turns out that’s not the advice that they actually needed. And it’s not the help that they needed.

So, um, yeah, we, we kind of joke around sometimes in the military when you have, uh, somebody who thinks they know all the regulations and all the laws and all the, these things like that. And we, they’re the barracks lawyer and they’re not actually a lawyer, but they. Play one on TV kind of thing, you know, and, uh, you know, you get that type of person and, and that’s, that’s the kind of dangerous situation you might find yourself in, [00:05:00] uh, where, where you think you got everything covered, but you really don’t.

Right. Um, so folks with VA benefits, um, how does, how do, how do the VA benefits, I guess? Kind of interact with Medicare, uh, coverage, any specific considerations that veterans should have, uh, when they’re thinking about enrolling in Medicare alongside the VA benefits, is that even possible to have both, uh,

Toni King: that’s great to have because you can have the best of both worlds.

Scott DeLuzio: sure.

Toni King: That person who is turning 65 and fixing to get on Medicare, you know, if they haven’t been disabled for years and been on Medicare for years, cause you can get on it under 65 if you’re on social security disability. Okay. But if you’re looking to retire or maybe you’re 65 and, and you’re now going to get on Medicare and you’re using the VA, a lot of veterans use the [00:06:00] VA for the prescription drug situation.

But they use their company insurance for something else, they’re still working. Well, you just kind of need to look at the whole situation. And it does not hurt you to enroll in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Nobody wants to pay the Medicare premium, but when you need to go to a doctor outside the VA, if they’re not accepting the VA facility, what do you do? mean, you’ve got to work with the VA to get approval and have them paid by the VA. It just doesn’t happen overnight. So, it doesn’t hurt to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B, but you will pay that Part B premium.

Scott DeLuzio: And for maybe the, the folks who are listening who don’t know the difference between the different types of Medicare coverage, uh, could you explain like what part A, part B and all the different, uh, types of coverage that, that are available? What those are? Uh, just kind of [00:07:00] just in general.

Toni King: Well, here’s what’s amazing. Medicare got started July 30th, 1965, when President Johnson, LBJ, as we know him in Texas, uh, flew to Independence, Missouri and, um, was there so that he, Harry Truman could see him sign Medicare into law because Truman lobbied for years. He knew that people were having a hard time and that’s when Medicare and Medicaid began.

Medicare got started with a 40 out of pocket once a year. And the premium was 3. Well, now it’s changed. You have Medicare Part A, which is your inpatient hospital stay. And you have Medicare Part B, which is your lifeline. And those premiums are a lot larger. Medicare Part A is 1, 632, not once a year, but six times.

Scott DeLuzio: Oh, wow.

Toni King: Every 60 days, [00:08:00] this thing recycles. People probably never see that, but it recycles. Medicare Part B is your lifeline. It’s where outpatient surgery, your doctor, your MRI, your CAT scan, everything is under Part B. That’s important. And the premium for that is 174. 70. And there is a 240 deductible once a year. So if all you have is Medicare, then your out of pocket is 80 percent that Medicare is going to pay, but you have to pick up the 20%. That’s where the Medicare supplement and the Medicare Advantage plans come into play. VA can help with that, I think, I believe.

Scott DeLuzio: Okay. Okay. So, so.

Toni King: Medicare pays me is Medicare. C

Scott DeLuzio: So, so those,

Toni King: plans and D is prescription drugs.

Scott DeLuzio: okay. And that’s important to have those differences, the, the A through [00:09:00] D there. Um, you know, especially, um, when you’re talking about the different benefits that you get through those different plans, um, because some of those stuff. Those things may be overlapping with what you have, uh, with your VA benefits like, you know, prescription drug coverage.

Um, you know, if you already have that through the VA and you’re happy and satisfied with, you know, what the VA is offering you, then, you know, you may not need the, the prescription drug coverage, uh, you know, outside of that, right? Um,

Toni King: You won’t need Part D because medic, because the Veterans Benefits is considered what they call creditable coverage. It meets Medicare’s needs. It’s better than Medicare Part D plans. It’s excellent. It’s

Scott DeLuzio: Right. And, and, uh, You know, as, as someone who has used their prescription drug, uh, you know, coverage, uh, myself, I mean, it’s, it’s pretty simple and, and they, uh, and it’s comprehensive [00:10:00] as well, uh, covers, you know, everything that I’ve ever needed, uh, anyways, as far as, uh, prescription drugs go and it. You know, it’s a pretty, uh, pretty good system that they have, uh, set up there.

They, you order, you put it in an order for, uh, you know, a refill and it ends up in your, your mailbox, uh, you know, a couple of days later and it’s, it’s pretty straightforward. So, um, so yeah, folks with the VA benefits who have that already, um, there’s no need for that extra, extra expense, right. Um, by, by enrolling in that, the, the Medicare side of things.

Um, So, in your experience working with, with veterans, uh, who, um, who are considering, you know, Medicare coverage, uh, what are some of the common, uh, misunderstandings that they have about how Medicare works alongside their VA benefits?

Toni King: Knowing how it’s going to blend with the VA benefits. And knowing what the [00:11:00] Part B cost is going to be, because a lot of veterans are working for large companies, and they are making a lot of money, and they don’t know what the premiums are, because the more your income increases, the more the Part B premium increases.

And we sit down and explain them what to do. We explain how you have to go to the Social Security website to sign up for Medicare. I mean, there’s a lot of things. It just doesn’t happen if you’re not receiving your social security check when you turn 65, you’re not going to get on Medicare. You got to go to the social security website and enroll.

I mean, it’s if you’re not working full time with true company insurance, so there that’s what we do when we do a consultation at the office, we sit down and we find what is your best situation for you. It may be best for you not to enroll. So we look at what is everything that you need to do, and I don’t care if you’re in Texas, New [00:12:00] York, California, the Medicare rules are nationwide.

They’re all the same.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s good to know, too, because, um, you, you don’t want to get information from somebody who’s in a different part of the country if the information is different, no matter where you’re, you know, depending on where you live. But in this case, that’s not the, that’s not the case. So, um, you know, getting information from you, um, in Texas, whether you live in, like you said, New York, California, or anywhere in between, um, there’s The same information.

So it really doesn’t matter where you live, where you’re from. Um, you’re getting the same information, um, you know, regardless. So, um, any, Oh, go ahead.

Toni King: Well, 1 thing that people need to know is like from October 15th through December 7th is Medicare’s annual enrollment period. There’s call centers overseas that are calling. They know [00:13:00] everybody’s phone number. They’re, they’re bombarding and all they’re trying to do is to get you to sign up for an Advantage plan at that time, a Medicare Advantage plan.

I mean, it’s, they can confuse you totally and you’ve got to know what’s going on. I mean, they get the information and then they send it to some agency here in the United States and off you go, you know, you’re just. people can’t imagine, especially when you’re turning 65, you wonder how do they know my information? Well, the driver’s license people sell it. They give it to everybody.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. Yeah. Your, your information’s out there. And I think, uh, folks in the military kind of have gotten used to the fact that their information is everywhere. Um, you know, I, I remember, uh, you know, being in. Uh, in the army and looking at some of the paperwork that, that was around and, and how much information there was about all the soldiers that were in the unit that I was in, you know, all that personal information [00:14:00] and it’s everywhere.

And it was on, you know, printed on all these different documents, you know, their, their, the names or addresses or phone numbers and, and got really detailed with all the kinds of information that they had. Um, you’re right. That information’s out there. It’s, it’s everywhere. When you, you have that information everywhere, people are going to use it and they’re going to call you and they’re going to, uh, you know, try to try to sell you on things and you may or may not need those things that they’re selling.

Um, and if you don’t understand what it is that do need, then. You might find yourself getting in trouble in the sense that you’re going to be buying something that you don’t need, spending money that you don’t need to spend. And, you know, if money’s tight, that might be a big problem for you, you know, even if it’s not tight, you don’t, you don’t want to be spending money that you don’t need to.


Toni King: right.

Scott DeLuzio: So

Toni King: And I had someone recently who read my article, because I’m in newspapers [00:15:00] nationwide, and he was a veteran here in the Houston area, and we have the DeBakey, Michael DeBakey, VA facility, and someone was there asking everybody for their social security number. was not a veteran. I mean, you don’t give anybody anything.

If you don’t know who the person is, don’t give them anything. And now there’s Medicare Advantage plans that are designed for veterans and will give them extra benefits and give them money back. Look at the plan. Have somebody else at the house with you when someone comes to see you so you got a second set of eyes to know what’s going on.

That’s important.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You don’t want. To get taken advantage of by someone who maybe doesn’t mean well, uh, and, and they’re just trying to

Toni King: Get a sale?

Scott DeLuzio: get a sale, basically, you know, they, they, whether you need it or not, they, they benefit by getting that sale. [00:16:00] So they’re, of course, they’re going to try to sell you on it.

Um, that isn’t always in your, your, uh, best interest. Right. So, um, now there may be some veterans who decide that maybe the VA healthcare system is not. for them. Maybe they’ve been on VA benefits for, uh, you know, a number of years and maybe they don’t like it. Maybe the, it’s not covering what they needed to cover, uh, based on their individual situation that they’re thinking of transitioning from that coverage to Medicare.

Um, are there any factors that they should consider when selecting those plans to either compliment existing coverage or, um, or replace VA coverage altogether?

Toni King: Well, when they’re turning 65, you have what’s called your Medicare initial enrollment period. And that is three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and 90 [00:17:00] days after. Okay? If you’re not working full time with true company insurance, I’m self employed, so I had to enroll in Medicare. Then that’s the time you need to enroll.

It doesn’t hurt to have Part A and Part B. I mean, you can go to every hospital and doctor nationwide, Mayo Clinic, uh, MD Anderson, where you’re at in Arizona. You can go to doctors everywhere and you need to look at your situation because everybody’s health situation is different. If you want to get a Medicare supplement, then that’s when you can enroll.

You don’t have to answer health questions. After your initial enrollment period, if you’re not working full time with true company insurance, Then you have to enroll in the general enrollment period, which is from January 1st through March 31st, which we’re doing right now, and that’s when you get a penalty. the penalty is 10 percent for every year or 12 month [00:18:00] period you could have had Part B, but failed to enroll. So if you’re waited 10 years, your penalty is going to be 100 percent forever, and they do charge you, but you won’t get a penalty for the VA benefits for prescription drugs. For Part D, because your prescription drug plan is better than Medicare’s.

It’s, it’s credible. And that’s, you can always keep that as your Part D plan. You know, you gotta, you just gotta know. Sit down with a counselor at the VA. They know what’s going on. Sit down with somebody and find out. If you’ve gotta go outside the VA, the VA can help you get certain doctors. I don’t know if all the doctors are covered where the VA will pick it up.

But if there’s a doctor outside for cardiologists or whatever, you can go, you know, as long as they’re part of the, as long as the VA will pay for it. You got to get [00:19:00] approval first.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. Yeah. And, and, uh, again, just as a, uh, one data point in the whole sea of the VA, you know, benefits system, I’ve used, uh, doctors outside of the VA system. Um, it’s called community care and they, you basically go to your, your VA doctor. Um, if, if they can’t Uh, provide you the service that you need, uh, in a timely manner.

Um, they’ll, they’ll refer you out to somebody in the community and they have a whole list of doctors and it’s not just doctors either. It could be, you know, physical therapy. It could be other things like that. Um, it could be acupuncture and other. Stuff like that, that they, they can refer you out to, um, if they can’t give you the, the care that you need in a timely manner, uh, they’ll, they’ll refer you out to somebody else in the community and allow you to get that coverage.

And then that provider just bills the VA for whatever the services that you’re getting. [00:20:00] Um, and. And, uh, you know, no, no cost to the veteran, uh, in, in a lot of cases. I, I don’t know of the specific instances where there is a cost. I personally haven’t had any costs when I’ve gone outside of the VA, uh, you know, billed directly to me, but, um, there might be circumstances where, where something is not covered and there is a cost to the veteran.

Uh, I just, I’m unaware of what those might be,

Toni King: use the doctor that the VA referred you to.

Scott DeLuzio: yes,

Toni King: Yeah, I mean, that’s what you got to do. Talk to the VA first before you make a decision.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s right.

Toni King: You know, because these doctors want to get paid. That’s

Scott DeLuzio: and you know what? It’s. To me, it’s been a very seamless process, uh, as far as, uh, you know, getting the referral to go to a doctor. Usually the doctor will get the referral from the VA. Uh, they’ll, their office will call you within a couple of days of getting that referral, um, because they want to get you in their office.[00:21:00]

They don’t get paid without having seen you. So they want to get you in, they want to get, get your, your care going. And, uh, They want to do what’s hopefully what’s, what’s best for you. Right. And again, like you were saying before, might be a good idea to have somebody there with you, uh, to kind of hear what the doctor has to say, you know, talk about the different treatment options that are available, ask questions that maybe you’re not thinking of, because there’s a lot of times they throw a lot of information at you all at once.

And, um, you know, having somebody there with you, that might be a, a thing that’s beneficial. So, um, yeah, for

Toni King: That’s absolutely right. And the other thing that veterans need to know, is there such a thing as aid and attendant benefits?

Scott DeLuzio: Okay.

Toni King: It is done through the VA. We are using it right now. My dad was in the Korean War. My mother needed to go into a nursing home or a skilled nursing facility or a personal care home and [00:22:00] X amount of dollars, like 1, 400 is coming to her each month because he was a veteran.

He qualified. You have to qualify for an income level, but it’s, it’s not as low as being on Medicaid. So it sure makes a lot better if you need additional care because you need long term care and you don’t want long term care policy. Yeah, it can, it can help you and that’s excellent. That’s aid and attendant benefits and you have to have had been in the VA, you’ve had to been a veteran during wartime.

Scott DeLuzio: Okay. Okay. Yeah. And, uh, you know, a lot of the listeners here, uh, probably do qualify under that, especially, you know, the last 20 some odd years we, we had, uh, you know, folks serving during wartime. Um, but, but certainly before then as well, you know, the Vietnam, Korea. Even World War II era folks, they are, um, you know, certainly qualified under that as well.

Um, so, so that’s something, but [00:23:00] again, talk to somebody who can help you with that and not, and when I say that, I don’t mean somebody who called you trying to sell you something, because I always think of those people as the type of person who is, um, maybe not having your best interests in mind. They may, uh, they may be just fine.

But you don’t really know. So I mean, reaching out to someone like yourself or someone at the VA or, or something like that, who, um, who will be able to help you out, um, make the right decisions. I think that’s the type of person that you want to talk to, um, to. To, in order to understand what it is that you actually are qualified for, what you need, um, so you don’t end up buying coverage for something that you don’t need, like getting Medicare Part D when you’re, you’re, you have prescription coverage under the VA benefits, right?

You, you don’t need both. And that, That would, um, that would be, uh, not in your best interest to sign up for [00:24:00] both. Right. And so, so having someone like yourself who can help someone navigate that and figure out what is necessary, I think is important. Right.

Toni King: I think so because if a man can put Neil Armstrong on the moon, an engineer, and he can’t understand this. I mean, don’t, don’t feel like you’re, a lot of people just think, well, I just don’t understand. I’m just, you know, I can’t grasp this. It overwhelms me. The more you think about it, the more confusing it gets

Scott DeLuzio: That’s

Toni King: and, you know, put the control back in your side, you know, with the VA, they got excellent counselors.

They know what’s right and wrong. The VA is not going to lead you down, down the wrong path at all. They know what you’ve got to do.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right.

Toni King: That’s it.

Scott DeLuzio: hmm.

Toni King: that that’s where that is and you know for the wives of veterans, you know They they need to know what they need to do to help the husband and what’s going on because it’s stressful [00:25:00] It really is stressful.

I had stress trying to get my mother into a nursing home a personal care home. It was Not an easy process, especially when someone has developed dementia. You’ve got a whole different ball game.

Scott DeLuzio: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, because even, you know, asking certain questions to somebody in that situation, uh, they may not be able to remember the answers to those questions, you know, accurately and, um, that the answers that they may give you may vary from one day to the next and that may, uh, be adding an extra layer of complexity onto the whole situation.

Um, are there any, process Mm hmm. Mm hmm. specific Medicare plans or options that are available that are tailored to meet the needs of veterans. I know you mentioned there are some, uh, you know, different plans that might be, uh, more suitable, uh, towards veterans, maybe, maybe specifically tailored to them.

Um, anything for, uh, you know, [00:26:00] different healthcare services that, that might be necessary for the veterans that you, you might recommend?

Toni King: when someone first gets Part B of Medicare, okay? And I’ve had a lot of veterans call. I’ve had a lot of people who have been past 65 and needed to get on Medicare because they were a veteran. When they first get Part B, of course, if they’re past 65 and not working, they’ll get the penalty,

Scott DeLuzio: Mm hmm.

Toni King: but if they get Part B for the first time, they need to realize that they can enroll in a Medicare supplement.

And they can pick a Medicare Advantage plan and look at it, and there are different Medicare Advantage plans that are done specifically that have veterans benefits for. Okay. I can’t mention company names. I mean, I’m not here to mention company names, But all you got to do is go to medicare. gov and look at the different plans or Google Veteran plans for with Medicare [00:27:00] Advantage for veterans and and it’ll let you know what the plans are And but getting Part B for the first time you can get a Medicare supplement without having to answer health question After six months, you got to answer all the health questions And then during October 15th through December 7th, if you want an Advantage Plan, you can enroll in it.

And you can either enroll with one with prescription drugs or one without because you’ve got the VA. There’s different things that you can do. You know, you just have to take the time and talk. And the best thing somebody can do is talk to your doctor. Find out what’s the best plan. If you have a doctor outside the VA that you like, ask them what plan they like.

What do they want you to do?

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I guess, I guess the answer is, is going to obviously depend on that individual and their individual circumstances, you know, what other coverage they may have available to them, things along those lines, but still talking to someone who’s knowledgeable [00:28:00] about this stuff, because medical billing and insurance and all this kind of stuff, uh, can be really confusing.

Um, like you said, You had somebody who took part in putting a man on the moon and couldn’t figure out the Medicare coverage. You know, how, how is, you know, the general population going to, to figure it out? Um, not, not to say that you’re, you’re stupid or you’re, you’re, you’re not intelligent or anything like, I don’t know, trying to say that about, about folks, but, um, You know, it’s, it’s like trying to understand the, the, the tax code.

Like it’s, there’s so, so much to it, so much complexity. Uh, you know, you’re not, you’re not going to be able to understand a hundred percent of it, but getting someone on your side who does know, uh, quite a bit, uh, of that, they’re, they’re going to be able to help guide you in the right direction and ultimately you have to make what the decision that’s right for you.

But they’ll be able to help, uh, kind of make that process [00:29:00] a little bit easier. Right.

Toni King: So you want to know how I got started doing this?

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, that would be great.

Toni King: Okay. Um, we had decided we were going to move to Mississippi in 2006 because my husband was going to build houses. He never built a house. I was working with an insurance company, a big Medicare Advantage company doing, um, you know, things that golden corral and a gentleman came to the workshop.

And he had called Social Security and they told him don’t get Part B. He was someone that was having heart issues and he had quit work. He told them he had company insurance. He had retirement benefits. So he turned over his card, signed it like the girl from Social Security told him to do and mailed it back in.

And then he went in the hospital and had a stint put in his heart and his group health insurance wouldn’t pay. He wasn’t working full time. He should have told me he had retirement benefits. He said he had [00:30:00] company benefits. Well, Social Security doesn’t ask you questions. They just say, what do you have?

And that was it. I knew the answer. So I took the Medicare and You handbook. I put it in people terms, came back to Houston, started writing an article in the local newspaper. It became part of the Chronicle, Hearst Publishing, and now the articles are going nationwide. And now we’re going to put information about the podcasts that you’re doing.

So veterans can know what to do because you give so much information that they need to know how to do it. And that’s Because someone calls Social Security and got the wrong information. You need to know what you want to say when you call them. Because they’re not going to look for it. They cannot ask you what your situation is.

Half the time they don’t even know the answers. Seriously, with COVID, there’s so many new people working for social security and, um, you know, [00:31:00] it can, it’s amazing.

Scott DeLuzio: it is. Yeah. And you know, one of the things with this show that I like to do is providing information, like what you just said. I like to get that information out to the veterans, maybe even to their, their family members or loved ones, people who, uh, you know, care about them. Um, because we are a stubborn bunch of people.

Uh, the, in the veteran community, we think that we’re, just figure it out on our own. And we don’t, we’re, we’re in, in this on our own and, and we don’t need anybody else’s help or, or maybe we sometimes think that there’s just nobody else out there who cares enough to help us. Um, but what I want to do is kind of show that there are people like you out there who, uh, you know, offer consultations and even workshops and, and things like that, uh, in information and resources and those resources exist, you just have to know where to look to get those [00:32:00] resources.

And so if I can shine a little light on your corner of the world and the types of stuff that you do, uh, that might help somebody who. Is sitting there thinking, I got to figure this all out on my own. And they’re pulling their hair out, trying to figure it out. Not really the best situation for them.

Right. So, so we’ll, we, we try to do that with all the, the different, um, uh, you know, services and, and things that we talk about on this show. And this is just one of those things where, when, when you and I met, uh, you know, a few weeks ago, um, I was like, you know, I’ve never. Never really thought to cover this type of information.

And there’s going to be people out there who have these questions. Um, and like you said, you don’t have to be 65 to, to get on this type of coverage. You know, there could be situations where you’re under 65 and you are eligible for some of this coverage. Um, and so. Anybody who’s listened to the show possibly could be, [00:33:00] uh, you know, eligible and they may not even realize that they are, um, you know, thinking that, Oh, I got to wait until I’m 65.

I’m, you know, I’m, I’m 35 right now. I got another 30 years to go and I don’t have to think about this until then. Well, you might be able to, uh, you know, depending on your situation, but like you said, there’s no cookie cutter, uh, you know, approach to it. Right?

Toni King: They can call us and my number is 832 519 8664. I have a local number, but you can call it and a voicemail will take your name. They can email us at info, I N F O. at T O N I S A Y S dot com. I’m Tony says dot com. I’m Tony with an I. And not a Y because I’m a girl. Okay? And they can go on my website, which is T O N I S A Y S dot com.

And they can look at the, [00:34:00] all my articles are there. I’ve got my podcast from SeniorResource. com, where the podcast is at. I mean, there’s different things. I’ve got a little video with me and Jack Canfield from Chicken Soup for the Soul. And he sent his, he sent one of my books to his sister because she was struggling with Medicare.

So, you know, I mean, everybody gets confused on it and everybody, nobody wants a penalty. Nobody wants to have to pay more and I, I wouldn’t want a penalty.

Scott DeLuzio: No. And I. I think one of the things for, for the folks who are listening, that they may not even realize that penalties are even a thing that exists, uh, when you’re, you’re talking about that, right? And then, then they get slapped with this, this penalty. And then all of a sudden, how do I, how do I deal with this?

Right. And the only way you deal with it really is to pay the penalty, right?

Toni King: that’s right, because there’s nothing, I mean, Medicare is good, but I’m going to tell you what the [00:35:00] VA does excellent for their veterans. They have excellent benefits. M. D. Anderson down here, not M. D. Anderson, Michael DeBakey is wonderful. It’s huge, it’s gigantic. We’ve got facilities outside of Houston.

There are people that just drive from Louisiana or Oklahoma to come to Michael DeBakey VA Center.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And they, they do. You’re right. The VA does a great job. Um, they’ve gotten a bad. Reputation in the past for, you know, some, some stuff that maybe didn’t, didn’t go quite so well for some of the veterans, uh, who were using them. But, uh, you know, in my experience, you know, was, has it been perfect? No, but you know, what, what is perfect?

Um, you know, it’s, it’s hard to find perfect anywhere. Um, and I think given the resources and the things that [00:36:00] they, they have going for them, they’re, they’re doing. You know, probably the best that they can that the staff that I’ve dealt with have been completely, you know, helpful. They’ve been friendly, uh, courteous.

I, I think part of it is your attitude goes a long way too. You know, if you, if you’re treating someone with respect, they’ll treat you with respect, right? If you are treating them like dirt, they’re going to treat you like dirt sometimes. And, um, you know, that’s, you know, it kind of goes both ways. So, um, You know, I, I think the VA maybe has had a bad reputation in the past, but, um, you know, honestly, um, I’m, I’m grateful that the coverage does exist, um, because it’s enabled me to get some care that, um, you know, would have been, uh, maybe a little bit more difficult for me to get, uh, outside of the VA, um, you know, given some of the service, uh, related injuries and things like that, that I might’ve, uh, been, been dealing with.

So, um, you know, I’m, Grateful for it.

Toni King: [00:37:00] and people need to realize that how, I mean, Washington has really worked for the veterans. They may think they haven’t. But they have, and they have really, really, really worked hard to change things that are at the VA centers. They’ve really worked hard in the last, I would say, eight years.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. Yeah. And, and I think, um, just like what you’re talking about with the Medicare plans and the different, uh, complexities that go along with Medicare and, and everything like that, there are some complexities to what’s available to veterans. Cause it, again, it’s not a cookie cutter thing. It’s, um, you know, it depends on, uh, You know, maybe if you have a service connected disability, uh, and, and how much, you know, what percentage of that disability do you have, uh, will depend on how much coverage you get.

And so, again, you might be talking to someone in the waiting room at, at a VA facility, and they may be saying how, oh, the VA covered this, that, and the other thing. [00:38:00] Um, and then you go to try to Get that covered for yourself and find out that it’s not covered for you. Um, because well, you might be rated differently than that other person and they may have different, uh, you know, options that are available to them.

So like with the Medicare options, you got to do your research and educate yourself. And there, there is some complexities to the VA system, just like there is to a lot of healthcare and a lot of, uh, insurance. Um, you know, you got to just have to do your research and sit down and, um, like you were saying before, have somebody with you who can help you kind of think through and, and sort things out.


Toni King: Don’t keep it to yourself, let your family in on what’s going on because they need to know if something happens and you got to go in the hospital, they got to be there for you. Anyway,

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right.

Toni King: they need to know what’s going on. My, um, [00:39:00] husband had to have cancer surgery because he was shot by the, you know, during Vietnam, they had all the Agent Orange, he got cancer in his throat and, you know, that was all.

Vietnam related and that helped him get his. Uh, VA benefits or VA, uh, income that was coming in. He got moved up. And I think now 70%, you got to know how to play the game.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. And, and the other thing that I think some veterans deal with is that they, they feel like if, if they get rated at, you know, with certain disability benefits and they’re getting paid that they feel like they’re taking away from somebody else, which, which is completely not true. We’ve talked about that on, on this show before, you know, take, take the benefits that are are due to you because of what you incurred during your service.

And, and, uh, don’t feel guilty about that. I think that’s, that’s important for [00:40:00] folks to remember is, you know, you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting those benefits that are due to you. But you, you sacrificed. Part of your, your, your body, your mind, your, you know, whatever you’ve sacrificed that for the country.

And this is the country’s way of kind of paying you back and making sure that, uh, you’re able to get the, the care that you need, right.

Toni King: You experienced things that no one else has ever experienced. My son was 82nd Airborne during Iraq. He saw things that he wouldn’t even want to tell anybody about, and he’s receiving his, uh, extra VA income. So he, he applied for it

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

Toni King: got it.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s, and, and, and you should, you should be able to, yeah. Without feeling guilty about it.

Toni King: we got to take our hats off to them because they did sacrifice. I mean, they did things [00:41:00] for us. That’s why we can stand here and do the Pledge of Allegiance. We’ve got our freedoms because of our goosebumps because of our veterans. I get goosey’s, goosebumps. So that’s why I start when I do a workshop. I started with the Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance because there is nothing any better.

We’re in the best country there is. And if we don’t stand up for it, then we’re letting down all the veterans and all of the people that have fought for us to where we’re at today. Don’t you think?

Scott DeLuzio: I, I a hundred percent agree. Um, you know, we can’t let those sacrifices, uh, be all for nothing. You know, if, if the, the sacrifice was made to, you know, uh, defend us and keep us free and we lose our freedom somehow, then all of those sacrifices were, were for nothing. And

Toni King: That’s right.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s a sad thing to think about, you know, um, all those lives, all [00:42:00] those, all those sacrifices, and even all the, the pain from the families, uh, who’ve lost loved ones or, or had to see a loved one who’s been injured or, uh, you know, wounded somehow, um, you know, dealing with that’s not easy either.

And, and so, you know, a lot of times we focus on, on the, the veteran themselves who have sacrificed for the, you know, that maybe they were killed in action or, um, they’re, they’re injured, um, but there’s the families who have to pick up the pieces too. And that’s, that’s not easy.

Toni King: know, especially if someone has been badly injured, it’s amazing what the wife ends up, the spouse ends up doing, you know? So that’s why I still, I stand for the flag and I kneel for the cross.

Scott DeLuzio: Well, we, we appreciate that. Uh, I think, I think that’s, that’s something that, Um, you know, we, we definitely want to see, uh, here and we want to make sure more people are, um, you know, respecting, uh, the, the country and the freedoms that we have and, um, doing stuff like what [00:43:00] you’re doing, trying to help out those, those folks who just don’t know how to navigate that system.

You’ve already figured out how to navigate the system. Um, and you offer those resources to people to enable them to, uh. You know, get the benefits that they, uh, that they may need, that they deserve, right. And,

Toni King: Well, then they send me a question I haven’t seen. I mean, I’ve seen almost everything. You know, I did have someone from Michigan who was 80 and he couldn’t get the help he needed from the VA. So, um, he was told what he needed to do and his penalty would be 15 percent 15 years, which would end up being 150%.

And that’s how I ended up writing my article because people need to realize. When to file for Part B and what’s the best time so you don’t get that Part B penalty, which is 10 percent for every year you didn’t sign up for it. [00:44:00] So when you turn 65, because you’re not my age yet, then we need to talk.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, it’s one of those things where, you know, you, you blink and all of a sudden you’re there. And, uh, you know, so

Toni King: Well, I was blinking my way, blinking like I couldn’t blink because let me tell you, under 65 and health insurance is not the best thing in the world. It’s not, and I’m having a, I, I, I don’t pay bills on Medicare anymore. I, I’ve picked good plans and I know my out of pocket is the Part B deductible, which is 240.

I have a Medicare supplement and I’m in control of my healthcare, not an insurance company.

Scott DeLuzio: And that’s, I think, important too, because I was just talking to somebody earlier, uh, about how there was a particular, uh, uh, issue that they had, uh, uh, you know, a medical issue and there’s a procedure out [00:45:00] there that can fix the issue, but they weren’t, uh, they weren’t severe enough to be able to get, to have insurance cover that, that, uh, um,

Toni King: What does severe mean?

Scott DeLuzio: the, uh, without getting into too much detail of, you know, what their, their, uh, problem was, they needed, they needed to be, I guess, maybe in more pain or more, uh, you know, whatever, in order to have the insurance say, yep, we’ll, we’ll cover this.

Right. And that I. Just blows my mind like that the, the insurance company is now making these decisions and not the doctor or the patient themselves, you know, and that, that, that just doesn’t

Toni King: to know how to talk, you have to know how to talk to them and put the lead, you know, they need to realize when someone’s really in pain, they need to take care of them. And [00:46:00] I don’t have those problems with Medicare.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s, that’s the good thing I think is, you know, once when you have that, that, uh, kind of under, under wraps, you’re, um, you’re not dealing with those, those kinds of, uh, decisions that. are out of your hands, uh, in a way. And that’s, it shouldn’t be out of your hands anyways. But, um, anyways, we, you gave all the, the contact information and links and all that kind of stuff.

And I’ll put those in the show notes for the listeners to get in touch with you. If they have questions about their Medicare coverage, how that interacts with their VA benefits, um, you know, what types of coverage do they need? Are there supplements? Are there, you know, Whatever it is that they have questions about, I’m sure you can answer them and help guide them in the right direction to making the right decision for them and their, uh, their situation.

Again, not a cookie cutter situation, but just a situation that they’re in. Um, so we’ll have all of that in the show notes. [00:47:00] Um, before we wrap this episode up. I always like to end the episodes with a little bit of humor. Sometimes we watch a video that’s a little bit funny. Um, sometimes I tell a joke or, you know, do, do something along those lines just to kind of lighten the mood.

Sometimes, uh, you know, some of the, the content that we talk about is a little heavy, a little, little dark sometimes. And, uh, you

Toni King: Uh huh.

Scott DeLuzio: to have something that folks can look forward to at the end of the show. Maybe it’s the only smile that they crack all day and, uh. You know, so I’ll, I’ll just end this episode with a quick joke.

If you don’t mind, uh, uh, just humoring me by listening to this joke. Hopefully it’s funny. I don’t know. I, I’ll go ahead.

Toni King: They can also, if they go on my website, they can sign up for my newsletter, because my Valentine newsletter next week is going to be dedicated to M& Ms.

Scott DeLuzio: Okay.

Toni King: Yeah, God’s has to do with M& Ms.

Scott DeLuzio: I’m sure. I’m sure once when, once when that, that newsletter comes out, we’ll, we’ll [00:48:00] find out, but, um, I’m, it’s actually got me thinking, uh, you know, what it might have to do with it, but, uh, um, I think we’ll have to wait to find out.

Toni King: Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: So,

Toni King: us your journey.

Scott DeLuzio: so here’s the joke. Okay. So. stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office, I was surprised to see that I weighed 204 pounds.

So as a nurse was making the notation in the chart, I joked, why don’t you just take off the last four? In my mind, I’m thinking it’s an even 200 that way, right? Well, a few moments later, the doctor came in, flipped through the chart and said, I’m a little concerned about your weight. You’re down to only 20 pounds. She took the floor off altogether.

Toni King: Oh, well,

Scott DeLuzio: clear enough with that, those instructions. It’s a corny joke, but you know what, I’m kind of, I’m kind of corny anyway, so.

Toni King: could have been a nurse that graduated from Texas. Who knows?[00:49:00]

Scott DeLuzio: I was

Toni King: we say?

Scott DeLuzio: I was going to say maybe she was,

Toni King: been easy.

Scott DeLuzio: uh, I won’t go there. I was going to say, I was going to make an interbranch army versus, you know, Marines or Navy, or, you know, I was going to make one of those kinds of jokes. I won’t go there.

Toni King: Uh oh. Uh oh. Well, that’s cute. I probably need to put that one in my newsletter. Okay. We like to have fun and I don’t get, I get serious, but I also like to have fun too. People need to realize how to relax.

Scott DeLuzio: and that’s, that’s kind of the point. You know, I want to make sure that people still know how to crack a smile and laugh every once in a while. And, you know, if we can do that, then I think we’re, we’re doing okay. So,

Toni King: Well, I just want to thank you, Scott, for what you do because I think what your, your podcast and what your website does is amazing for veterans. They need to have something that they can lean on and that’s, I’m going to put that on my website because [00:50:00] people need to know it.

Scott DeLuzio: well, I appreciate that. And I’m, I’m, I’m glad that I’m able to offer this, uh, basically the service to veterans, um, to their families, to their loved ones, to the folks in their lives who might find like they’re, they’re kind of struggling. They don’t know where to turn. Um, there’s resources out there. No, no matter what it is that you’re, you’re going through, what you’re dealing with, there are resources out there and you just have to know where to look.

And so hopefully we can shine some light on it like we did today with uh, Medicare and the types of uh, services that you offer and hopefully we can do that with uh, you know, anything that, that’s going on in, in the veteran’s lives.

Toni King: Okay, well, I salute you.

Scott DeLuzio: All right. Thank you so much.

Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, [00:51:00] LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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