38 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, 833 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.

    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
     
    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 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
     
    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 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.
     
    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 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
     
    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 18 min
    COVID tests are free, except... when they're not

    COVID tests are free, except... when they're not

    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 not to fall 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.

    • 21 min
    Like a fire with no one to call: 'We've left no latent capacity in health care.'

    Like a fire with no one to call: 'We've left no latent capacity in health care.'

    Ryan Gamlin spent a decade working on the financial side of health care, before going to medical school. Now, as an anesthesiologist in Los Angeles, he’s on the front lines fighting COVID-19, an experience he describes as “scary, in a way that I never expected to be scared, going to work.”


    He was scared one day last summer, too, when a California wildfire came within feet of the hospital where he was working. 
    And then a fleet of fire trucks showed up to protect the hospital. “City, county, park service, forest service, new trucks, old trucks, unmarked trucks.”


    “As I drove home later that day through the protective ring of equipment, I realized the fundamental difference between public safety and health care. Public safety is built on latent capacity. We pay for people and equipment to stand idle, over-prepared for emergencies.”
    These days, he’s been thinking back to that experience.


    “We’ve left no latent capacity in health care,” he wrote in a Twitter thread. 


    “And some part of the tragedy that’s now unfolding in this country is because of that. Because we let health care become a business. And because businesses don’t keep a hundred extra fire trucks around, their crews trained and ready, just in case.”


    We talked with Ryan about his experiences for this week’s episode. With protective equipment in short supply, he said, "It felt like a fire, with no one to call."


    We ALSO hear some good news, about folks who are stepping up to help — tapping their own latent capacity.


    That includes people making "ear savers" for health-care workers. Turns out, if you wear a mask all day, the elastic rubs the heck out of the skin behind your ears. Some people are 3-D printing connectors that go around the back of the head.


    And some people are taking a more low-tech approach. Here's a picture of my friend and neighbor Liz Feldman is the medical director at a local clinic. She's modeling ear-savers that are basically fabric headbands, with buttons sewn in to hold the masks in place, made by a retired colleague from old t-shirts and scavenged buttons.
     
    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 17 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
833 Ratings

833 Ratings

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?

MountainsandWhiskey ,

Health as a business vs health as a human right

As a Brit living in the Us for 5 years the healthcare system here is incredible. Lots of unreasoned shouting ultimately controlled for the benefit of investors. I think on think is telling during this crisis- everyone in the UK is proud of the NHS and #protectthenhs and raising money for the nhs. There is nothing of the sort here. Is the NHS perfect, nope, but does it have the interests of the common people, yup. Do most people think it’s worth the $250 av from their paychec. Absolutely. Can’t say that about the $700 a month and $10000 deductible I have here.

Top Podcasts In Documentary

Listeners Also Subscribed To