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

20 minutes

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


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