Kaiser Health News, An Arm and A Leg Podcast

Badass volunteers help Jared level up, in the fight to crush medical debt

1 week 1 day ago

An update on Jared Walker, whose viral TikTok described a little-known (and effective) method to “crush” many hospital bills, and offered to help folks deploy it. Since then, he's been responding to thousands of requests for help—and building a system to respond more effectively, thanks to a small army of whip-smart volunteers. 


Jared’s non-profit, Dollar For, has got that system up and running. So: If anyone you know has a hospital bill they can’t pay, the system can quickly tell them if they might qualify for debt forgiveness, and get them started on an application. Here’s the link. Pass it around.


Also, if you want to see that original 60-second video, it's here.


Here’s the transcript for this episode


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A whole book about fighting effed-up medical bills? Yes, please.

3 weeks 1 day ago

For years, at ProPublica, Marshall Allen has been exposing health care grifters. (He’s our kind of guy.) 

Now, he's written a book … about how to fight back. It’s called “Never Pay the First Bill.” We talked—about some of his best tips, about how you can’t win ‘em all, and about why it’s worth learning all you can and giving it your best shot.


Marshall compares the U.S. health-care "system" to the bully he faced in 7th grade. Big, stupid, mean. And SOMETIMES—as he learned in junior high--you can stand up to 'em, and not get stomped. Worth. Your. Best. Shot.


Marshall is a kindred spirit—we talked to him for stories in 2019 and 2020— and the conversation is a whole vibe. He shares some “magic words” that are worth memorizing or writing down somewhere. 

Here’s one you can copy and paste, for if you ever end up in the ER. There’ll be a form they want you to sign, that says you’ll pay WHATEVER insurance doesn’t cover. If you can, X that out, and write in this instead:


I consent to appropriate treatment and (including applicable insurance payments) to be responsible for reasonable charges up to two times the Medicare rate.


(Why Medicare? Listen in for the details.)


Here’s a transcript for this episode


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


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Want to write a killer letter to insurance? Meet Jeannine.

1 month 1 week ago

Health care insiders get stupid medical bills too. One of them taught us how to write an insurance appeal—like the one that saved her son $14,000. You can read that letter—and her notes to us about why she chose to include certain words and key facts—right here: https://armandalegshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Appeal_letter_2020_redacted_with_comments.pdf


We met Jeannine after our host addressed a conference of “industry insiders.” It wasn’t much fun. But this makes it all worthwhile.


Links! You can...

Read the transcript for this episode: https://armandalegshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/S5-Ep09-New_Friend_Transcript.pdf

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

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Mini-episode: One guy skirts a medical-bill trap, and shares the secret.

2 months ago

When Adam Woodrum's insurance denied a claim for an ER bill, he sent his story to NPR... because he happened to KNOW how to deal with it. And he figured it would be a friendly thing to share what he knew. (Kudos, Adam!)


This story was originally reported by Julie Appleby for our pals at Kaiser Health News, and KHN editor-in-chief Elisabeth Rosenthal weighs in at the end.

 

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Why picking the right insurance is so hard (bonus/encore)

2 months 3 weeks ago

How hard is it to pick the best health insurance? ECONOMISTS find it hard. Including one who has studied the question, "How hard can it be to pick a decent insurance plan?"

Lots of people are suddenly eligible to pick possibly-cheaper health insurance thanks to the American Rescue Plan—the big stimulus bill Congress passed in March—so we thought it could be useful to bring this 2018 story back.


Also useful: This essay from health-care reporter Zachary Tracer about how he picked his health insurance, with directions for you (that start with pouring yourself a drink)


There are more how-tos, and health insurance basics, on our web page from the original version of this story.


And here's a VERY useful tool, described in the episode—for if you live in DC, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, or Vermont


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Programming note: We're working on some cool new stuff.

3 months 2 weeks ago

... and it's gonna take us a little while to get it ready for you— maybe a couple months. Meanwhile, we'll have little updates for you here and there.

... and it's a great time to sign up for our newsletter, where we'll have details on what's next, and stories we think you'll be interested in.

Here's where to go: https://armandalegshow.com/newsletter/

 

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1 hour 36 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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