An Arm and a Leg

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A weekly Science, Medicine and Health podcast
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Sarah Macsalka has seen the stories about how expensive an emergency room visit can be, even for a minor complaint.So when her seven year-old son Cameron gashed his knee on a weekend morning in June, the ER was NOT where her family headed first.In fact, Macsalka did just about everything she could to avoid paying a big, fat bill to get Cameron’s knee stitched up — and ultimately failed.For instance, she took Cameron first to a local urgent-care clinic, but was told they didn't have anesthetic. So it was off to the ER.Before signing anything, Sarah asked what it might cost and pressed hard — but got only squishy answers.She ended up liable for $3,000 in charges. If only she had known.“I would've said thank you very much. And walked out and gone back to our lovely urgent care and been like, 'Cameron, bite on this stick.'”Her adventures make an entertaining parable, and they raise a big question: In a health care system where consumers are told to "shop" for the best deal, why is it so hard for us to get the information we need?On this episode, we get some answers, thanks to a super-insider and straight shooter: Lisa Bielamowicz, a doctor who now runs Gist Healthcare, a consultancy firm where hospitals are the clients, gives us the dirt.We'd love it if you support this show on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Meredith Balogh has spent years learning to navigate the financial side of the health-care system. She’s a type-one diabetic, she’s never had a lot of money, and for years she didn’t have health insurance.It hasn’t been easy, but she’s become a master. “There's only three things that you're fighting,” she says. “Problems with competence, problems with greed and problems with maliciousness. And luckily most things are incompetence.”She has saved herself and her family many thousands of dollars, and made a habit — even a hobby — out of helping others: Fellow diabetics, co-workers, and strangers on the Internet.She's a health-care ninja. And she happens to be my neighbor.Also in this episode: Our show's chief investor (and my spouse) applies some ninja-level negotiating skills to save our family more than $700 on a lost medical device. Around here, that's what we call romantic.Thanks to our supporters on Patreon! We'd love it if you became one: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs has a daughter born hearing impaired, which is how she found out insurance didn't cover hearing aids for kids. Those start at $6,000 and only last a few years. Stephanie teamed up with a few other moms to change Texas law... and won.Stephanie is a terrific storyteller. She's the author of Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful, a memoir about grieving her brother, Harris Wittels, a writer for TV comedies like Parks and Recreation, who died of a heroin overdose.... and she is the host of the new podcast Last Day, which uses her brother's story as a starting point for a deep and smart and very-human look at the opioid crisis. Highly recommend: https://www.lemonadamedia.com/show/last-dayP.S. This podcast, An Arm and a Leg, is a finalist for a very-strange, very-approriate award: Best True Crime show of 2019. Because not all crimes are against the law. Let 'em know: Go vote for us right now — voting closes November 18: https://awards.discoverpods.com/finalists/Also: We'd love it if you support this show on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow Thanks!  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
The price of insulin is iconic — doubling, tripling, multiplying like crazy, for medicine Type 1 diabetics can’t live without.To understand it, we went back almost 100 years and dug up a story of sweaty Canadian researchers — swatting away flies and doing business with probable dog-nappers, on the way to a Nobel Prize… and a deal with corporate pharma.Charles Best and Frederick Banting on the roof of the University of Toronto medical building, petting a dog they probably picked up from some shady character on the street … and whom they would soon sacrifice in the name of science. (Photo courtesy University of Toronto.)We also found hopeful signs out there today, including the folks at the Open Insulin Project in Oakland, California, who are working on their own recipe for insulin, which they hope to share as widely as possible.Anthony Di Franco holds a 3-D printed model of an insulin molecule at Counter Culture Labs in Oakland. (Photo courtesy Anthony Di Franco.)If it sounds crazy — well, we talked with a listener who has hacked together an artificial pancreas from outdated equipment, raw computer parts, and open-source software, all with the help of her fellow “rogue, cowboy hackers,” who are growing in number. So, you never know.Terri Lyman of Arizona shows off the home-made rig that regulates her blood-sugar and insulin levels according to her specifications. (Photo courtesy Terri Flynn.)Meanwhile, activists with T1 International — an advocacy group run by Type 1 diabetics — are lobbying Congress, like the woman who leads off our story.Adeline Umubyeyi, a T1 International activist, models a t-shirt from the group’s Washington, DC chapter president. (Photo courtesy Adeline Umubyeyi.)They’re also organizing “caravans to Canada” (as our colleagues at Kaiser Health News recently documented with PBS News Hour) You will find a TON of details, links and resources in our newsletter. We’ve been told that even the sign-up process is pretty entertaining.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Laura Derrick takes a drug that costs more than $500,000 a year.So when her family was going to lose their insurance, she made crazy sacrifices… and changed the course of history.Find Us OnlineWebsite: http://armandalegshow.comTwitter: http://twitter.com/armandalegshowInstagram: http://instagram.com/armandalegshowFacebook: http://facebook.com/armandalegshowAbout UsHost: Dan Weissman (www.danweissmann.com)Editor: Whitney Henry-Lester (thedarlingkiller.com)Consulting Producer: Daisy Rosario (@RunDMR)Audio Wizard: Adam Raymonda (adamraymonda.com)  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
You've probably noticed: The U.S. economy is crashing.Something you may not have noticed, that may sound really weird: Almost half of that economic devastation comes from just one sector.And that sector? It's health care.If that sounds completely backwards, it is. Except in the world of how we pay for health care in this country.Because even though we as a society need health care workers like never before, to fight COVID...... we-as-individuals are avoiding doctors' offices and hospitals for everything else, whenever we can. Just like we're avoiding going out to eat.And this country runs health care kind of like the restaurant industry: When people stop showing up for Sunday brunch— or for hip replacements, colonoscopies, etc. —the enterprise runs short of cash real fast.Even folks you'd think would be the most in-demand — ER docs fighting COVID—aren't immune.In this episode, we look at some of the extra weird details of this very-weird recession: how a couple pieces of it are working, and what they could mean. For our wallets.We draw in this story on stuff we covered in a Season 3 episode called Can They Freaking DO That?!? It's still fun and relevant, and you can catch it right here.https://armandalegshow.com/episode/can-they-freaking-do-that/Thanks to everyone who supports this show on Patreon! Join 'em, and we'll shout you out at the end of an episode: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Lots of people have insurance plans that only cover them with certain places —providers, certain hospitals.But: in a COVID pandemic surge, who knows if you'd end up one of those places? And if you end up someplace else... then what?That’s the question we got from a listener named Becky in Minnesota. She's got a Bronze plan — it only covers a limited "network" of providers— and she's got a $6,000+ deductible.With officials talking about converting sports arenas into makeshift hospitals, Becky says: "If you call an ambulance, you may not even go to a hospital, right? Let alone a hospital that is quote-unquote in your network."We put Becky's question to one of the country’s top health-insurance nerds: Sabrina Corlette, founder and co-director of Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.Not all the answers were comforting. But they weren't all grim either. And Becky turns out to have some good advice for us all.And, per Sabrina Corlette's advice for anybody newly out of work — and suddenly without health insurance: Go apply for Medicaid.As promised in the episode, here's a map showing which states have expanded Medicaid so that pretty much anybody who suddenly has very little income is eligible.Please keep your questions and stories coming: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/Or call (724) 276-6534 — that's (724) ARM N LEGAnd as always, we'd love you to join us by supporting the show on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
It would sound a LOT like Explanation of Benefits, which is a musical revue that actually played in New York City in 2019.... so it would feature a parody of "Bills, Bills, Bills" — the 1999 Destiny's Child hit —rewritten for the age of GoFundMe.And it would have smart, funny musical numbers tracing the long, sad history of the U.S. health care industry.Welcome to our musical episode! And thank you to the young NYC troupe Heck No Techno for creating Explanation of Benefits.Our episode isn't sung all the way through — it's more like the PBS documentary on Hamilton than an actual musical of its own. But that is still. Pretty. Darn. Cool. AND: In keeping with our theme this season of self-defense against the cost of health care, Explanation of Benefits wraps with a set of short vignettes demonstrating ways patients can work to protect themselves from excessive charges.So we have included here an email-by-email breakdown of songwriter Emily Lowinger's successful battle to fight off a surprise medical bill.... and we've set it off with music — timing and cues lovingly adjusted by our audio wizard, Adam — and it is a TREAT.Go enjoy. Have a great Thanksgiving!... and speaking of thanks: I recently spent a weekend afternoon sending thank-you cards to folks who support this show on Patreon. I'd love it if you became one: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
For our Season 2 finale, time for some inspiration.For 30 years, James Gingerich has run a super-effective clinic in Indiana, delivering great results at low cost — to high-need, low-income patients.James Gingerich stands in front of shelves holding books that Maple City Health Care Center distributes to families with young children.He’s not a modest guy, and two of his brags stand out — as a study in contrasts.One is a quote from a board member that makes him sound like a big dreamer:“People think of us as a medical organization. We’re not. We are fundamentally a peace and justice organization that happens to be engaged in our community through medical care.”The other is the way he stands at his desk and nerds out on stats that show his clinic beating the pants off the competition, on preventive-care measures like screenings for cervical cancer, vaccination rates for two-year-olds, etc..“OK, next: diabetes control,” he says. “Are you getting the idea here?”At the heart of it, he says, is listening to people’s stories. The rest he calls “housekeeping.”It’s not a fix for our whole broken system — you can’t just copy-and-paste what’s happening here — but it’s definitely pretty inspiring.There’s a bit more in this write-up I did for our pals at Kaiser Health News.But first! How about taking our listener survey?It just takes a few minutes, and you’ll be helping us out a TON: https://armandalegshow.com/survey/Thank you! You’ll be helping us get Season 3 made.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Dr. Saul Weiner is a physician and researcher at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago. (Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin)Researcher Saul Weiner has been sending fake patients — actors, wired for sound — into real doctors’ offices, to learn about what actually happens, especially: How well doctors really listen to their patients.He’s tallied up what doctors miss (a lot), and how much it costs (ditto). In today’s episode, we hear what actually happened in one of those “secret shopper” doctor visits — with the doctor and the actor who played his patient reading from the transcript of their visit, and then unpacking what went wrong.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
That’s the rude awakening Eric Umansky got when he called the company that provided his CPAP machine — a device that helps him breathe at night.He got mad. And he got even, in a way: Eric is an editor at the non-profit newsroom ProPublica, and he tipped a colleague —Marshall Allen, who covers health care there.The two of them together, in this episode, are hilarious and enlightening.The story Marshall wroteopened up bigger issues about how insurance companies are collecting all kinds of data to use against us.And it included at least one example of how the “little guy” can fight back sometimes, and win.Extra fun: One of those examples features a 16 year-old Marshall Allen.Marshall Allen, age 16, in his 1988 yearbook photo. (Photo courtesy Marshall Allen.)Note: Eric curses a couple of times. We left it in.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
This week, we look at three MRIs with four different price tags, and an enormous range. Liz Salmi and a view of her brain. (Photo: Kaiser Health News)The first two price tags come from listener Liz Salmi, who has been living with brain cancer for more than a decade.Liz gets MRI scans twice a year, to make sure the cancer isn’t growing. A couple years ago, Liz changed insurance, changed providers… and got serious sticker-shock when she saw the bill for a scan: $1,600 — AFTER insurance.So when she needed a follow-up scan, she shopped around — and found an option that set her back less than 90 bucks.Which is great news, and useful — as far as it goes: As Liz points out, not everybody has six months to shop around.But Liz’s experience isn’t even the craziest MRI-price-tag story we look at this week. Stick around for that.Coming in to bat cleanup — to help us understand why these prices are so crazy, and so variable — is journalistic super-star, friend of the show, and my new colleague:Elisabeth Rosenthal, editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News and author of An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back. She breaks it down in an authoritative, funny, clear-as-glass way.(Reminder: Kaiser Health News — our co-producers for this season — is not affiliated with the health care provider Kaiser Permanente. It’s a great story, and we’ve got it for you right here.)This is the first of three episodes where we look at where health care prices come from. So this week it’s MRIs.Next up: Prescription drugs. And then: Insulin. Yep, we are going there.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Bari Tessler is a little famous as a “financial therapist,” but even she gets rattled by the price of health care.Her story is complicated. And very relatable.Bari chose to use a Christian "health share" instead of regular insurance. It's cheaper, but it comes with strings: Things the group doesn’t cover, limits on their obligations to you… and a religious vision that not everybody is comfortable with. Including Bari.She sees it, for now, as the least terrible of a bunch of terrible options — but she’s conflicted about it.Also: What my family is doing for health insurance next year.And: A taste from one of the most painfully-hilarious things to hit the Internet for a long time. Welcome to Our Modern Hospital, Where if You Want to Know a Price, You Can Go F*** Yourself, published by McSweeney’s.There’s a longer excerpt, and an interview with the author, Alex Baia — that’s on our Patreon. Thanks to Alex for permission to record excerpts, and to ttsreader for dramatizing the text for us!Find Us OnlineWebsite: http://armandalegshow.comTwitter: http://twitter.com/armandalegshowInstagram: http://instagram.com/armandalegshowFacebook: http://facebook.com/armandalegshowOur Team:Host: Dan Weissman (www.danweissmann.com)Editor: Whitney Henry-Lester (thedarlingkiller.com)Consulting Producer: Daisy Rosario (@RunDMR)Audio Wizardy: Adam Raymonda (adamraymonda.com)Music: David Winer (wearefancymountain.com)  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Turns out, insurance companies allow — even encourage — crazy price-gouging by hospitals. For example, the leg brace Blake needed was available for $150 on Amazon. But thanks to his insurance, he paid more than $500.Investigative reporter Jenny Gold’s work helps us understand how that kind of thing happens.She compares health care to shopping for a gallon of milk.“We can look at the cost of a gallon of milk at lots of different stores and decide which one is the best,” she says.At the store, there’s maybe there’s a couple different brands, with the prices on the shelf. We pick the one we want, pay on the way out.“Now with healthcare,” she says, “the analogy would be, you go to the store for a gallon of milk. You have no idea what it costs. You don’t know what it costs at that store compared to other stores. You walk into a random store, pick out a gallon of milk, go through check-out. You still don’t know what it costs. You give them your credit card information and then a few weeks later you get a bill telling you how much they charged you.”Super-crazy. Jenny’s reporting shows how insurance companies help to keep those prices hidden, and keep them high.Jenny Gold works for Kaiser Health News — which, we should explain, is not part of Kaiser Permanente health care. It’s part of an independent foundation that basically runs on an endowment set up by Mr. Kaiser, more than 50 years ago.RESOURCE ALERT: Jenny’s boss, former New York Times reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal, published an amazing book in 2017: An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back. I have been studying it like a bible and a playbook since I started working on this show. If you want to really get mad — and learn a ton about how health care got so crazy in the U.S. — this is the book to read.An audio version of Jenny’s story ran on the public-radio show Marketplace. Thanks to Kaiser Health News, and to Marketplace for the story and for the tape of Sarah Azad and Ken Weber.Photo, above: by Liza, via Flickr. CC 2.0 license.Thanks again to the great Mucca Pazza for the use of their tune War of Amusements at the close of this episode.Find Us OnlineWebsite: http://armandalegshow.comTwitter: See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
The health-care system — especially the financial side — can feel like a Medieval torture device. So maybe it fits that workers from Renaissance fairs have come up with a work-around.In this episode I meet Robin Hood and a woman who has made more than $2 million in medical bills… disappear.Also, you’ve started sending us stories as voice memos. And they are awesome.Send more! stories@armandalegshow.com.Regular emails are nice too. You’ve sent some powerful stories that way. We are listening.Also, you’ve shared tips, including this CBS News story about insurance companies refusing to pay ER bills. Super-timely, since we’ve got a story about ER bills coming up in the next couple of weeks.You can find more information about the Rescu Foundation at the group’s website: rescufoundation.org(Photo from the Sherwood Forest Faire Facebook Page.)  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
The answer involves a suburban housewife, a 1970s TV star, and a Las Vegas maker of popcorn and nacho cheese sauce. Also: Wall Street.Produced with our friends at 99 Percent Invisible.Many thanks to Abbey Meyers, Joshua Schein, and Nora Guthrie.Find Us OnlineWebsite: http://armandalegshow.comTwitter: http://twitter.com/armandalegshowInstagram: http://instagram.com/armandalegshowFacebook: http://facebook.com/armandalegshowAbout UsHost: Dan Weissman (www.danweissmann.com)Editor: Whitney Henry-Lester (thedarlingkiller.com)Consulting Producer: Daisy Rosario (@RunDMR)Social Media Magic: Multitude Productions (http://multitude.productions)  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
The answer involves a suburban housewife, a 1970s TV star, and a Las Vegas maker of popcorn and nacho cheese sauce. Also: Wall Street. Produced with our friends at 99 Percent Invisible. Many thanks to Abbey Meyers, Joshua Schein, and Nora Guthrie. Find Us Online Website: https://armandalegshow.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/armandalegshow Instagram: http://instagram.com/armandalegshow Facebook: http://facebook.com/armandalegshow About Us Host: Dan Weissman (www.danweissmann.com) Editor: Whitney Henry-Lester (thedarlingkiller.com) Consulting Producer: Daisy Rosario (@RunDMR) Social Media Magic: Multitude Productions (http://multitude.productions)
Anna's insurance company said it would pay 100 percent for COVID-related testing. And then they left her to pay a giant bill.She got help, thanks to a viral tweet, but... her story exposes big loopholes in consumer protections. We learn how to avoid falling in.And: The way people responded to her tweet was generous, moving, and... complicated. Uncomfortable. Weird. Even with everybody doing their absolute best. (And, we should say, with as happy an ending as any of us get these days.)Anna's story gets right to the heart of some of the really weird ways that dealing with the cost of health care — ESPECIALLY in the world of COVID-19 and the Internet and everything else — just messes with our minds, and our relationships as humans.Thanks to Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, who reported the story of Anna's bill for Kaiser Health News and kindly let me piggyback on her hard work! You can read her version at.https://khn.org/news/bill-of-the-month-covid19-tests-are-free-except-when-theyre-not/.Send your stories our way: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/And support our work: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Caitlin and Corey Gaffer got a surprise letter from their insurance company — saying they were being dumped for non-payment. Except, as far as they knew, they were paid up.As it turned out, they’d made a couple of small mistakes, which they were eager to fix. But their insurer was definitely not interested. Caitlin and Corey spent fruitless weeks on the phone.And then, Caitlin’s pregnancy — more than six months along — ran into complications.They scrambled for months to get covered, while racking up about $30,000 in hospital bills.There’s a happy ending. Two, in fact.First, their baby was born healthy (and insured) in January. She’s in the episode too, and she’s adorable.Maggie, Corey, and Caitlin Gaffer, with Luna the dog. (Photo by Lauren Cutshall.)Second: In March their old insurer offered an apology — and offered to reinstate them. (This was the day after a reporter called to ask the insurer for their side of the story.)… but the whole journey was harrowing, and opens up questions about what kinds of safeguards consumers have — or should have — against getting dropped.Welcome to Season Two!This story — like a lot of this season — came straight from my inbox. A few days after the show launched, I got an email with the subject line “Pregnant woman and her husband in Minnesota need help.”We’ve got new friends!We’ve got co-producers for Season Two, Kaiser Health News. Three things to know:First: Kaiser Health News is not affiliated with the giant health care provider Kaiser Permanente. They share an ancestor — which is a fun story I’ve written all about here.Second: They ARE a great non-profit newsroom covering health care in America, an editorially independent project of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (There’s that name again. And again, here’s the story.)Third: Their editor-in-chief is one of the people who inspired this show.YEP. The whole story is worth reading. I am so pleased and proud to be working with these folks.Catch you next time. Till then, how about…Following us on Twitter or Facebook?Becoming a Patron?Sharing a story?  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
With COVID vaccinations ramping up, it's time to check in: Who's been trying to make a buck? And who's been doing their best to serve the folks who need help the most? In Philadelphia, the good, the bad, and the ugly have all been on vivid display.The Bad comes with a giant serving of chutzpah: For a while, the city put its mass-vaccination program in the hands of a 22 year-old with no experience in health care, but with a healthy interest in making money. It did NOT go well. (You may have seen that headline before. We get the deep dive from public-radio reporter Nina Feldman, who uncovered the caper.)The Ugly is systemic racism: Or is it just a coincidence that the city put its trust in a white 22 year-old... while ignoring an effective group of licensed, experienced, Black health-care professionals who were volunteering their time? That would be the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, led by Dr. Ala Stanford.The Good is the work that Dr. Stanford and the Consortium have been doing, which throws the Bad and the Ugly into stark relief. Since last spring, they've been working tirelessly and creatively to address disparities in the care that Black Philadelphians receive for COVID-19.They're not the only folks working to address those disparities—including a lack of good vaccine information from trusted sources. Here's a great example from a project called The Conversation: Between Us and About Us, hosted by comedian W. Kamau Bell:You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp6S4C6zG_MWe talked with one of the project's leaders, Dr. Rhea Boyd, author of a recent New York Times essay, Black People Need Better Vaccine Access, Not Better Vaccine Attitudes. (Disclosure: The project is backed by the Kaiser Family Foundation, who also are behind our co-producers at Kaiser Health News.)Here's a transcript for this episode.Send your stories and questions: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEGAnd of course we'd love for you to support this show.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Yep. This viral TikTok video's recipe for "crushing" medical bills is legally sound. And IRS filings from thousands of hospitals attest to $2.7 billion of crush-able debt from a single year— a number that experts say looks more like a floor than a ceiling. Of course, it'll take a lot of work to actually zap those debts. But Jared Walker is off to a promising start. His organization, Dollar For, had already helped wipe out millions in medical bills before he made that video.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Jeff is a lawyer who used to represent medical-bill collectors in court. ("I was a bad guy, for sure," he says.)But he switched sides, and he's here to tell us what he knows. For instance, we have more rights than we probably know.It can be tough to get them enforced, but he's got some tips there too.And his portait of how the dark machinery works is... kind of hilarious.Here's a transcript for this episode.Send your stories and questions: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEGAnd of course we'd love for you to support this show.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Former health-care executive Wendell Potter spent part of 2020 publishing high-profile apologies for the lies he says he told the American people in his old job—and trying to debunk the myths he once sold. The story of how he became a whistle-blower is a modern-day Christmas Carol. And it's a story about the long, messy process of change—whether that’s changing your own life or trying to change a bigger system. It’s a great way to close out a pretty-terrible year.Another cheerful note: THANK YOU!!! Your support for this show has MAXED OUT the matching program NewsMatch. It’s a huge, huge boost for our work in 2021.Of course, we could still use your support before the year ends. We would love it. There is SO much work ahead.AND, if you’re looking for other places to help out, here are a few places doing powerful work:Remote Area Medical runs free pop-up clinics— and seeing one played a role in Wendell Potter’s move from Scrooge to whistle-blower.Get Us PPE helps front-line workers get the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe during the pandemic. (And yep, that is still a thing. Grrr…)RIP Medical Debt pools money to buy up old medical debt and forgive it. By doing bulk transactions, they can take a $5 donation and use it to discharge $500 in debt. (We featured their work in a 2019 episode, Christmas in July.)MLK 50: Justice Through Journalism does powerful investigative reporting. After they exposed how the biggest hospital in Memphis was suing patients over unpaid bills, the hospital was shamed into dropping thousands of lawsuits and erasing almost $12 million in debt.And of course it is absolutely not too late to support this show. Here’s that link: https://armandalegshow.com/support/Send your stories and questions: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Keeping the plan we've got means paying $200 a month more. But... would a "cheaper" plan cost us more in the long run? It depends! And COVID makes it a lot more complicated. This stinks.You can hear my wife and me try to puzzle the whole thing out, and then I debrief with an expert. Who leaves me reminded how lucky we are to have the options we do. HEALTH INSURANCE SUCKS.But the alternative is so much worse.If you want to go deeper on health insurance, you might want to check these episodes from our first season:In Why you (and I) will likely pick the wrong health insurance, we learn: Smart economists have proved it's actually super-hard—even they aren't sure they'll pick correctly— and most of us don't even know the vocabulary, or how to do the math. (It's not our fault, either.)Why health insurance actually sucks illuminates one big answer: Insurance companies allow a LOT of price-gouging. And often WE end up paying those prices. Argh. It really does suck.In the first-ever episode of this show, my family confronts the big puzzle: Can we even get insurance that'll work for us?In A "deal" on health insurance comes with troubling strings, we go on a journey with a kinda-famous "financial therapist" who says she gets rattled when it comes to picking health insurance. And she's pretty uncomfortable—morally, personally—with some of the choices she's made. (Also, my family makes another cameo.)And here are some other helpful big-picture takes:Listener Anna Jo Beck made a really great booklet explaining how health insurance works. It's a zine! You can read it online.I borrowed some core insurance-picking advice—consider what a health plan does for you if you get hit by a bus—from this great story by Zachary Tracer at Business Insider, spelling out how he picked his insurance.Want to go really deep? Like, you're actually looking at buying health insurance, maybe on the Obamacare exchange?I found healthcare.gov to be SUPER-usable this year, way better than last time I checked: I punched in the answers to a few questions, and got to quickly tell it which doctors our family sees (and what meds we take)... and it provided a clear list that showed which plans cover our docs, how much they would cost us, etc.SUBSIDIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR OBAMACARE PLANS. Our pals at the Kaiser Family Foundation—who run Kaiser Health News, our production partners— have this explanation of how they work. (It's a slog, but thorough. Print it out, open a beer, and settle in.)Remember how we said in this episode that lots of folks qualify for a plan with no premium? That's this bit of research from...  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Possibly our most-useful episode ever. A listener asked: How do I remain cool when calling insurance companies?We called a veteran self-defense teacher— because self-defense means a lot more than hitting and kicking. It's about standing up for yourself in all kinds of difficult situations. Which means using your words.Lauren Taylor talks us through some of her top strategies, and how she used them this year in her own epic health-insurance fight.Send your stories and questions: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEGSupport us: During November and December 2020, your donation counts for DOUBLE, thanks to a campaign called NewsMatch. So cool. You can make a one-time donation OR make an ongoing monthly pledge. Here's the link: https://armandalegshow.com/support/  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
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Podcast Details

Created by
An Arm and a Leg
Podcast Status
Active
Started
Oct 11th, 2018
Latest Episode
Apr 28th, 2021
Release Period
Weekly
Episodes
61
Avg. Episode Length
20 minutes
Explicit
Yes
Order
Episodic
Language
English
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