40 episodes

A show about the cost of health care that’s more entertaining, empowering, and occasionally useful than enraging, and terrifying and depressing. Reporter Dan Weissmann digs in to show how we got into this crazy mess and how we just might live through it.

An Arm and a Leg An Arm and a Leg

    • Documentary
    • 4.8, 857 Ratings

A show about the cost of health care that’s more entertaining, empowering, and occasionally useful than enraging, and terrifying and depressing. Reporter Dan Weissmann digs in to show how we got into this crazy mess and how we just might live through it.

    Financial self-defense school, now in session: Make your own luck.

    Financial self-defense school, now in session: Make your own luck.

    If you need medical care, it's like you've entered a casino, playing for your financial life, with the deck stacked against you. Lucky for us, we get insight — and tips the dealer WON'T tell you— from ace reporter Celia Llopis-Jepsen.


    To start with, she got an executive from a health-care company to talk honestly — maybe more honestly than he realized — about how his company and others are playing the game, when they send patients bills for huge amounts.


    Here's what else she found, when she investigated an $80,000 bill one man got: For many COVID patients, including the guy in her story, lots of providers just aren't allowed to bill for more than insurance pays them.


    Those are providers who took some of the $175 billion in bailout funds that Congress passed out in March. Don't expect your provider to just tell you. (That $80,000 bill did not include a footnote saying, "Once insurance pays us, you can forget all about this.") But if you get a bill for COVID treatment, you can make your own luck and look up the provider yourself. Because Celia found a government database where you can SEE if your provider took those funds.


    We also like Celia's Expert tip sheet for pushing back against your medical bills.
    ... and her first big medical-bill story— A Kansan's $50k Medical Bill Shows That You Don't Always Owe What You're Charged— is packed with insight too.


    Note: When this episode was first posted, our host mis-pronounced the first name of a man who received an $80,000 bill. He is Anil Garmalkar. The audio has been corrected.


    We are bringing you these self-defense lessons every two weeks from here on out. That's thanks to direct support from listeners. We'd love for you to support us too: https://armandalegshow.com/support/
     
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    • 27 min
    We’re back! Dealing with the cost of health care seems pretty relevant right now.

    We’re back! Dealing with the cost of health care seems pretty relevant right now.

    There's no time like a pandemic to (a) learn to fight back against the awful cost of health care. And (b) have a good time doing it. Yep. Let’s go.
     
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    • 2 min
    The hug shortage, the new abnormal, and the $7,000 COVID test. What we've learned in SEASON-19

    The hug shortage, the new abnormal, and the $7,000 COVID test. What we've learned in SEASON-19

    We wrap up our COVID-19 popup season with stories from three folks with very different takes on what we've learned so far about what the pandemic is costing us: A doctor and advocate in Brooklyn looks back on the wave of black and brown patients that filled her clinic in March. A nurse-practitioner in Texas looks at how new tech is—and isn't—helping the older patients she cares for.

    And: One of the country's top insurance nerds says her first policy ideas to keep people from getting stuck with high bills for COVID tests ... were wrong.

    Get ready for the hug shortage, the new abnormal, and the $7,000 COVID test.

    And: Help guide the next steps for this show! Take five minutes for our listener survey. We so appreciate it. https://armandalegshow.com/survey/
    Thanks to everyone who supports the show on Patreon. You can join 'em here: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow
     
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    • 22 min
    How Katelyn survived COVID—without going bankrupt. (Not easy. She has tips.)

    How Katelyn survived COVID—without going bankrupt. (Not easy. She has tips.)

    In early April, Katelyn was in a financial bind: Home sick with COVID, she hadn't been paid in weeks. And bills were due. "My landlord is kinda beating down my door right now," she said in a voicemail to our hotline.

    Weeks later, Katelyn got back in touch: She had made it through, thanks to a combination of playing hardball with one company and knowing how to play nice with others.

    Because of her job, she had an insider's understanding of the playing-nice process: Katelyn works in collections for a financial institution, so she knew how to ask for help. Even so, she didn't find the process easy.

    She came out of the ordeal with a heck of a story, and hard-won tips for all of us.

    In addition, here are a couple of resources mentioned in this story:

    * A collection of tips on dealing with medical bills and collection agencies, from one of our favorite teachers: TikTok mom Shaunna Burns. https://armandalegshow.com/medical-bill-tips-from-a-mom-who-knows-some-things
    * Hello Landlord is a free online tool that automatically generates letters you can send to your landlord, asserting your legal rights. (Right now, those rights may include some federal protections avainst evictions.) https://hellolandlord.org/

    You can call and leave us a message too: (724) 267-6534 — that's 724 ARM N LEG
    Or share stories at https://armandalegshow.com/contact/
    Thanks to everybody who supports our work! Join 'em here: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow
     
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    • 21 min
    From inside the health insurance company: Angst, and advice we can use.

    From inside the health insurance company: Angst, and advice we can use.

    A listener, who has worked in health insurance for decades, wrote in. "I have listened to all the episodes in this podcast, and there are times I come away feeling bad working for the insurance company."

    We talked. Along with angst, she shared advice we all can use.
     
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    • 16 min
    The severe, weird recession... in health care. And what it means for our wallets

    The severe, weird recession... in health care. And what it means for our wallets

    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
     
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    • 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
857 Ratings

857 Ratings

Ginagina Smith ,

Can’t wait

Sounds like great podcasts coming up!

Jugamjuan ,

Anyone with unfair medical bills should hear this (which is almost anyone in the US)

We need more podcasts like this. The real life stories are very well prepared. This really empowers the public to be informed and prepared to take on unfair medical bills.

WWSmith ,

Learn so you can act

If the content of this show makes you uncomfortable or scared, do something about it. Health is a temporary condition; we will all face the battles described in this show some day. What do you want the deck to look like when it’s your turn to draw?

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