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Revisiting insulin, as relevant (and expensive) as ever

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 …

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

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 …

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

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 …

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

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 …

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

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 …

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

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 …

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

Possibly our most-useful episode ever. A listener asked: How do I remain cool when calling insurance companies?


We called a veteran self-defense …

David v Goliath: How to beat a big hospital (using small claims court)

In a classic—and hilarious—David vs. Goliath story, Jeffrey Fox takes on a huge hospital over an outrageous bill, and wins.


He's a bit of an expert in …

How to handle debt collectors, with the TikTok Mom and a legal expert

There's a reason Shaunna Burns went viral with her videos about dealing with debt collectors: She used to be one, so she knows a few things. (Also …

Your TikTok Mom has some medical-bill tips, and a hell of a story

Forty-something mom Shaunna Burns went viral on TikTok, thanks in part to a series of videos dishing out real-talk advice on fighting outrageous medical bills. She's become the virtual mom …

A Blast of Hope and Humanity: Here's what perseverance looks like

Laura Derrick fought and endured for decades. When medical bills threatened to swamp her family, she made huge sacrifices, worked unbelievably hard... and helped change the course of …

She tangled with health insurance every day for 25 years. And loved it. Here's what she can teach us.

Barbara Faubion got up every day psyched to go to work—which she says puzzled her friends. “They’d go, ‘You love your job?!? You spend your whole day …

How to fight like a bulldog (against bogus medical bills)

Steve Benasso is an HR director who, his colleagues will tell you, hates insurance companies, and hates seeing people getting taken advantage of. So …

Financial self-defense school, now in session: Make your own luck.

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 …

We’re back! Dealing with the cost of health care seems pretty relevant right now.

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.

 

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 …

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 …

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 …

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.

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, …

If I get COVID-19, what good will my insurance do me?

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 …

Makers unite: Speeding PPE to a COVID hospital

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 …

Whoa. Welcome to SEASON-19

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: …

Reporter's Notebook: What we've learned so far, and what's ahead.

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 …

Watch Your Back: Outwitting the Back-Pain Industry

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, …

Christmas in July

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. …

Can they freaking DO that?!?

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 …

Health Care: The Musical

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 …

My Neighbor the Health-Care Ninja

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 …

Mom vs. Texas

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. …

An actor walks into a doctor’s office…


Dr. Saul Weiner is a physician and researcher at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago. (Photo: Roberta …

Whoa, this medical device is spying on me. In my sleep. So my insurer can deny me coverage.


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 …

Coming next week: The price of insulin

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 …

Why are drug prices so random? Meet Mr. PBM

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 …

How much for an MRI? Well, that depends…

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 …

To get paid, hospitals get creative

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 …

We thought we had adulted properly

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, …

A “deal” on health insurance comes with troubling strings

Bari Tessler is a little famous as a “financial therapist,” but even she gets rattled by the price of health care.


Her story is complicated. And very relatable.


Bari chose to use a Christian …

Why are ER bills so horrible? Sarah Kliff spent a year finding out. (Season One, episode 7)

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 …

Why Health Insurance Actually Sucks (Season One, episode 6)


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 …

So, Robin Hood’s got an approach to medical bills. (Season One, episode 5)


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 …

Why you (and I) will likely pick the wrong health-insurance plan (Season One, episode 4)


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 …

How one drug got its $500,000 price tag. (With 99 Percent Invisible– Season One, episode 3)


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 …

All the Marbles: One woman’s epic quest for health insurance (Season One, episode 2)


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 …

This is Water, and it sucks. Let’s talk. (Season One, episode 1)


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 …

A podcast about the cost of health care, coming November 2018

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 …

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Start listening to Mom vs. Texas
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