An Arm and a Leg

An Arm and a Leg

armandalegshow.com
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.
Aug 6 • 27 min
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…
We’re back! Dealing with the cost of health care seems pretty relevant right now.
Jul 27 • 2 min
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. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
The hug shortage, the new abnormal, and the $7,000 COVID test. What we’ve learned in SEASON-19
May 27 • 22 min
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…
How Katelyn survived COVID—without going bankrupt. (Not easy. She has tips.)
May 20 • 21 min
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…
From inside the health insurance company: Angst, and advice we can use.
May 13 • 16 min
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…
The severe, weird recession… in health care. And what it means for our wallets
May 6 • 18 min
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…
COVID tests are free, except… when they’re not
Apr 29 • 21 min
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…
Like a fire with no one to call: ‘We’ve left no latent capacity in health care.’
Apr 22 • 17 min
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…
If I get COVID-19, what good will my insurance do me?
Apr 15 • 32 min
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…
Makers unite: Speeding PPE to a COVID hospital
Apr 6 • 20 min
We kick off SEASON-19, about the cost of COVID, with a dose of hope — a story about an unlikely chain of people coming together to speed PPE to a COVID hospital in Brooklyn. NYC is a couple weeks ahead of the rest of the country, we think, so there are…
Whoa. Welcome to SEASON-19
Mar 30 • 1 min
We were not expecting to bring the next season out for another couple months, but… STUFF has been happening. Is happening. We’re here with you. Bring us your stories and your QUESTIONS: We’ll ask the smartest people we know to tell us all what they know.…
Reporter’s Notebook: What we’ve learned so far, and what’s ahead.
Feb 14 • 33 min
This bonus episode turns the tables: Ace reporter Sally Herships interviews Arm and a Leg host Dan Weissmann, about what he’s learned so far, and what’s ahead for the show. \They dig into the stories listeners are sharing — the lessons people say they’re…
Watch Your Back: Outwitting the Back-Pain Industry
Jan 2 • 28 min
Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, an investigative reporter with a bad back, spent years researching the $100-billion back-pain industry. She found that the most commonly-prescribed treatments, including surgery, frequently do not work — and often leave people a…
Christmas in July
Dec 26, 2019 • 26 min
How one family’s tragedy became, decades later, a $1 million gift to their neighbors. This story has everything: Laughter. Tears. Family. Community. Generosity. Softball. AND: Punk rock. John Oliver. A taco bar. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and…
This hospital sued thousands of patients — until a reporter called them out.
Dec 19, 2019 • 23 min
They say the problem with relying on journalists to embarrass providers into caving on crazy bills is, there aren’t enough journalists to go around. Fair. But sometimes journalists can scale up. In Memphis, reporter Wendi Thomas found that the city’s…
Can they freaking DO that?!?
Dec 12, 2019 • 27 min
A woman got a bill from a medical testing lab she’s never heard of, for $35. Then, a follow-up bill said if she didn’t pay up right away, that price was going up — WAY up: to $1,287. Which raises a question that comes up a LOT with medical billing: Can…
Why can’t they tell you the price upfront?
Dec 5, 2019 • 26 min
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,…
Health Care: The Musical
Nov 27, 2019 • 22 min
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…
My Neighbor the Health-Care Ninja
Nov 21, 2019 • 29 min
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.…
Mom vs. Texas
Nov 14, 2019 • 28 min
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.…
Hey there! Season 3 is coming November 14. Here’s a preview.
Oct 31, 2019 • 2 min
It’s going to be REALLY fun. Also, maybe useful. Catch you here soon! Also, here’s a little video preview. Wanna share it with folks? Be our guest! Here it is on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vimeo. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out…
A place where they do health care more cheaply and effectively. (And yes, it’s in the U.S.)
Jul 31, 2019 • 22 min
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…
An actor walks into a doctor’s office…
Jul 24, 2019 • 17 min
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’…
Whoa, this medical device is spying on me. In my sleep. So my insurer can deny me coverage.
Jul 17, 2019 • 16 min
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…
The insane, surprising history behind insulin’s crazy price (and some hopeful signs in the wild)
Jul 10, 2019 • 26 min
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…
Coming next week: The price of insulin
Jul 3, 2019 • 1 min
As we started working on season two of this podcast, there was one topic that seemed like we just had to look at: insulin. … and I wondered: There are stories about insulin prices everywhere. Would we really have something to add? Something that wasn’t…
Why are drug prices so random? Meet Mr. PBM
Jun 26, 2019 • 18 min
I filled a prescription recently, and the drugstore said they wanted more than 700 bucks… for an old-line generic drug. My insurance ended up knocking that down, but it was WEIRD. And it meant a big homework assignment for me. Luckily, I got help. Both…
How much for an MRI? Well, that depends…
Jun 19, 2019 • 22 min
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…
To get paid, hospitals get creative
Jun 12, 2019 • 15 min
Hospital bills are too high, and insurance doesn’t cover enough. Turns out, that’s a crisis for hospitals too: more and more of us aren’t paying those bills, because we can’t. So, they’re getting creative about collecting — and offering discounts. Which…
We thought we had adulted properly
Jun 4, 2019 • 23 min
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…
We’re back! Here’s a taste of Season 2, launching June 4.
May 22, 2019 • 2 min
Hey there! We’ve been working hard on season 2. We hope you enjoy this preview — there’s so much good (and frightening) stuff ahead. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Is it ever appropriate to fudge a little? (Season One, episode 8)
Dec 18, 2018 • 22 min
Bari Tessler is a little famous as a “financial therapist,” but even she gets rattled by the price of health care. Also: What my family is doing for health insurance next year. This is our Season One finale. Maybe you’d like to subscribe to our…
Why are ER bills so crazy? With Sarah Kliff of Vox.com. (Season One, episode 7)
Dec 11, 2018 • 19 min
Emergency rooms often bill you a “cover charge” just for walking in the door, and it can be thousands of dollars. That’s in addition to the huge markup on everything that happens there: seven bucks for a band-aid. Twenty dollars for a couple of pills.…
Why Health Insurance Actually Sucks (Season One, episode 6)
Dec 4, 2018 • 16 min
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…
So, Robin Hood’s got an approach to medical bills. (Season One, episode 5)
Nov 27, 2018 • 15 min
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…
Why you (and I) will likely pick the wrong health-insurance plan (Season One, episode 4)
Nov 20, 2018 • 18 min
Because as smart economists recently proved) it is super-confusing, and most of us can’t do the math. But! We found glimmers of hope. So don’t be scared. We’d like to hear how you’re choosing your health insurance for 2019 — or are you going to do…
How one drug got its $500,000 price tag. (With 99 Percent Invisible– Season One, episode 3)
Nov 13, 2018 • 24 min
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…
All the Marbles: One woman’s epic quest for health insurance (Season One, episode 2)
Nov 13, 2018 • 19 min
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 Online Website: http://armandalegshow.com Twitter:…
This is Water, and it sucks. Let’s talk. (Season One, episode 1)
Nov 13, 2018 • 19 min
When I first started talking about doing a show about the cost of health care… everybody had a story. Including me. It’s like that famous speech by the writer David Foster Wallace called This is Water. It starts with a joke about two young fish swimming…
A podcast about the cost of health care, coming November 2018
Oct 11, 2018 • 3 min
The spiraling cost of medical care shapes people’s lives: The jobs we’re afraid to leave because of insurance, the risk that a trip to the doc could end in bankruptcy. It’s not healthy. This is my story too, and that’s why I’m making this podcast. Here’s…