Kaiser Health News, An Arm and A Leg Podcast

Revisiting insulin, as relevant (and expensive) as ever

6 days 2 hours ago

We're re-releasing and updating a story we first reported in 2019, about how insulin got to be so horribly expensive—the scientists who discovered it did NOT want price or profits to keep it away from people who need it—and what some people are doing about it, today.

The story seems especially relevant right now, for two reasons:

  1. the COVID vaccine process has reminded all of us how vital it is to BOTH get breakthroughs in the lab AND to make sure everyone can afford to benefit from them.
  2. The second half of the episode—about ways that folks who need insulin are taking action on their own behalf—turns out to have been a sneak preview of this show's current focus on self-defense.


Also, the whole thing is a wild ride. And: The updates from people we talked to in 2019? All more encouraging than we'd expected.


Here's a transcript for this episode.

Send your stories and questionshttps://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG

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A legal strategy for erasing billions in medical debt— that works—from a 60-second video.

2 weeks 6 days ago

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.

 

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A former "bad guy" lawyer shows us how the dark machinery works. And our rights.

1 month ago

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 questionshttps://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG

And of course we'd love for you to support this show.

 

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

Mini-episode: Two small doses of good news

1 month 2 weeks ago

2021 is off to a rough start, but we've got a couple of small things that don't completely suck.

First, a new federal rule could help cut through one completely-ridiculous issue. Then, a listener describes how he headed off an insurance nightmare, using what he learned from this show.


Dan talked about the first story—a requirement that hospitals give us some information upfront about what a given service might cost us (after insurance, if we've got it)—in a short conversation with Niala Boodhoo for the daily-news podcast Axios Today.


You'll find a LOT more detail on that rule in this story from reporter Celia Llopis-Jepsen (whose reporting about a $50,000 "air ambulance" ride formed the core of a recent episode about how we get squeezed by insurers on one side and providers on the other).


Here's a transcript for this episode.

Send your stories and questionshttps://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG

And of course we'd love for you to support this show.

 

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

A 21st-century Christmas Carol: How one Scrooge became a health-care whistleblower

2 months ago

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 questionshttps://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG

 

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From our reporter's notebook: What we learned in 2020, and what's ahead, with T.K. Dutes

2 months 2 weeks ago

This episode turns the tables: Host Dan Weissmann gets interviewed about what he's learned this year, and what's ahead for the show— with T.K. Dutes, an ace radio host and podcast-maker ... who was a nurse in a previous life, so she knows a thing or two about the health-care system. (She chronicled her career transition in an episode of NPR's Life Kit.)


And here we learn: During her nursing career, she was uninsured. She's got some stories about life before-and-after health insurance.


T.K. also coins what could be a new tagline for this show: "Where there's money, there's going to be scams."


Check out Open World, a terrific podcast T.K. published recently with fellow superstar Rose Eveleth. The first episode features a reading by and discussion with the writer N.K. Jemisin, who won a MacArthur "genius" award the day after the show came out. (Clearly, the MacArthur folks were listening.)


Support 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/

Send your stories and questionshttps://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG

 

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

Fight! My family tries to pick health insurance for next year. COVID makes it harder.

2 months 3 weeks ago

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:


And here are some other helpful big-picture takes:


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...  

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Andy Slavitt gives us a COVID check-in from 40,000 feet

2 months 4 weeks ago

Andy Slavitt, who ran a big chunk of health care for the Obama administration, has spent 2020 talking with almost everybody who knows anything about the COVID pandemic— and sharing what he learns in real time, first on Twitter, then on his pandemic podcast "In the Bubble." When we wanted an episode taking a look at the big picture—what we've learned so far from the pandemic and what we might expect next—Andy was the person we wanted to talk to. And he said yes!


We got into the money side of what we can expect with vaccines and testing, and treatment—which wasn’t always pretty but wasn't all bad news—and we ended up with some really big-picture questions about the profit motive in health care. 


Support 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/


Send your stories and questionshttps://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG

 

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

How to avoid a big bill for your COVID test: with Sarah Kliff of the New York Times

3 months 1 week ago

They're supposed to be free. And usually they are. But sometimes... things happen. Here's how to keep them from happening to YOU.


New York Times reporter Sarah Kliff has been asking readers to send in their COVID-testing bills. She's now seen hundreds of them, and she runs down for us the most common ways things can go sideways, and how to avoid them.


Here's Sarah's NYT story that inspired this episode.


Support 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/

Send your stories and questionshttps://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG

 

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

How to Keep Cool in a Tough Moment: A self-defense expert breaks it down

3 months 3 weeks ago

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 questionshttps://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG


Support 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.

Checked
2 hours 34 minutes ago
Kaiser Health News, An Arm and A Leg Podcast

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.

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