Kaiser Health News, An Arm and A Leg Podcast

How to avoid the crappiest health insurance.

1 week 3 days ago

We kick off with a wild ride: How one journalist almost got roped into a scam.


While hunting for a new insurance plan, Mitra Kaboli got an offer that seemed too good to be true—but seemed to be coming from her current insurer. Mitra was skeptical, and it turns out, she had every reason to be. Dania Palanker from Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms unpacks this sketchy scheme, and gives us the key to avoiding it: When you're searching for health insurance... skip Google. Seriously.


Then, some top health insurance nerds teach us how to really shop for health insurance: where to find the fine print and how to read it.


They also deliver some good news (for once): Thanks to subsidies in the American Rescue Plan some deals this year are actually… deals! Meaning: health insurance got more affordable for lots of people this year. Here's the subsidy calculator we mention in the episode.


Want to read all of those tips in one place? Check out First Aid Kit, the newsletter where we're summing up all the practical stuff we've been learning since this show launched. 


Here’s a transcript of the episode


And of course we’d love for you to support this show. This month, every dollar you donate is DOUBLED, thanks to NewsMatch and the Institute for Nonprofit News.


Holy cow, what a deal. Here, go for it


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The Insurance Warrior takes on a $61B Company

3 weeks 2 days ago

When Mattew Lientz needed surgery to save his life, his insurance wouldn’t cover it. Enter: Laurie Todd, the Insurance Warrior. Her first task: Figuring out who Matthew was really fighting, and how big the battle really was.


Together, Matthew, his wife Diane, and Laurie made the case for Matthew’s life. Fourteen years later, the speeches they gave in a conference room full of insurance executives are a masterclass in winning insurance appeals — and living to tell the tale. 


The battle also illustrates a lesson that Laurie Todd learned while fighting it: Fighting your health insurance often means fighting... your employer. Yep, most employers “self-insure.” 


And in this case, that employer was one of the biggest companies in the world.


Here’s a transcript of the episode

For the Insurance Warrior's origin story, check out our previous episode.

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

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

This month, every dollar you donate is DOUBLED, thanks to NewsMatch and the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Holy cow, what a deal. Here, go for it


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Meet the Insurance Warrior

1 month ago

In 2005, Laurie Todd needed surgery to save her life. Her insurance company had no intention of paying for it. She went to war, and won. She's been helping other do the same ever since. Now, she's sharing her secrets with us.


Psst: This month, when you support this show, every dollar you donate is DOUBLED, thanks to NewsMatch and the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Holy cow. Here's the link.


Also:




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We spend 12 million hours a week on the phone with health insurance

1 month 3 weeks ago

Yup. A Stanford professor measured it. So… we should probably learn how they actually make money, understand their incentives. Here’s one clue: A lot of the time, providing insurance isn’t their real job. In this episode, we unpack what that means, and we start exploring how to put that knowledge to work. 


Here’s a transcript for this episode: https://armandalegshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/12-Million-Hours-An-Arm-and-a-Leg-Transcript-S6-Ep05-12.pdf


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


And of course we’d love for you to support this show: https://armandalegshow.com/support/




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Wait, that was legal until now?!?

2 months ago

Hospitals in Maryland were suing patients over bills that should’ve been forgiven.

It wasn’t illegal. Until now. How a coalition changed that. This year. 


Plus, our friends at Dollar For build their bill-crushing army, one Zoom training at a time. 


Need help applying for charity care for you or a loved one? We compiled a list of five helpful tips. 


Here's the 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.


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"We just kept right on pushing"

2 months 2 weeks ago

Manny Lanza died because he didn't have insurance. His parents fought back, with help from New York’s favorite tabloid. After years of work by advocates and organizers, laws suddenly changed. Here’s how.


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.


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The wild backstory of a tiny but crucial Obamacare provision (ft. David Axelrod)

3 months ago

How one Republican senator made sure the ACA required non-profit hospitals to act more like charities—and less like loan sharks—before voting against the whole thing. 


The national requirement to offer charity care emerged from the Obama White House’s failed courtship of GOP Senator Chuck Grassley. We hear how that failed courtship almost tanked the ACA— and how the battle over the ACA “broke America”—from former Obama adviser David Axelrod, longtime reporter Julie Rovner and a top Grassley aide. 


This is the second in a four-part series—but you can totally start right here!


The series looks at the (slow, uneven) development of legal protections for consumers (a.k.a. patients, a.k.a. people who just don't want to die and aren't Bill Gates) against outrageous medical bills and draconian collection practices.


You can listen to the first episode any time, before or after this one. It's about how a legendary lawyer—the guy who beat Big Tobacco in the 1990s—tried to sue non-profit hospitals into acting more like charities and less like loan sharks. (He lost, but it wasn't a total dead-end; that's where this episode picks up.) It's totally fun too. It's right here.


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.Here's a transcript for this episode


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A legendary lawyer sued hospitals for price-gouging their patients. And got his butt handed to him.

3 months 2 weeks ago

The lawyer was Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, the lawyer who beat Big Tobacco in the 1990s. Later, he launched a series of ill-fated national lawsuits aimed at getting non-profit hospitals to quit price-gouging low-income patients, and chasing them hard for payment. It... didn't go as well as the tobacco lawsuit, by a long shot. Scruggs did help start something that ended up making real change.


For instance: We’ve been following the work of Jared Walker, who went super-viral on TikTok, spreading the word that non-profit hospitals are legally obligated to provide charity care. That obligation didn’t exist when Scruggs launched those lawsuits.


This is the start of a four-part series about how change actually happens. In this case, it’s a wild ride, and it's not done. By the end of this series, we'll meet folks today who are pushing that work forward. 


Next stop: The White House. It’s gonna be fun. 


Meanwhile, maybe you can help make change happen: Researchers at the Innovation for Justice program at the University of Arizona are looking at hospitals’ debt collection practices, and how laws or regulations could do a better job protecting people. They’re looking to talk to some people who have been sued over medical bills. If that’s you, or someone you know, here’s a link to get in touch: bit.ly/talkmeddebt. It’s a 30-minute interview. They’re not gonna release your name or anything to ANYBODY, it’s all anonymous. (And there might be a gift card in it for you.)


Here's a transcript for this episode.


Big thanks to Kindling Group for allowing us to use audio from their documentary Do No Harm in this episode. You can learn more about their work at kindlinggroup.org.


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.


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Checked
41 minutes 37 seconds ago
Kaiser Health News, An Arm and A Leg Podcast
A show about why health care costs so freaking much, and what we can (maybe) do about it. Hosted by award-winning reporter Dan Weissmann (Marketplace, 99 Percent Invisible, Planet Money, Reveal).

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