Your free Podsite trial has expired, but you still have time to upgrade!

Claim your custom domain name todayClaim your domain

The bill looked like BS. So she took it to small claims court.

26 minutes

“I sued a hospital in small claims court and lost — here’s what I learned.” That was the subject line for an email we got from listener Lauren Slemenda. 

She wrote: “I feel like I won” — and we knew we needed to talk with her.

She wants to encourage more people to try taking providers to court over unfair bills. 

“If everybody that they screw stands up,” she says, “They can't afford to pay a lawyer to defend against all of those [cases].” 

It’s an interesting idea for sure — What if more people use small claims court to fight messed-up medical bills? Like, a lot more people? — and we’ll be exploring it in the coming months. 

Meanwhile, Lauren’s story has lessons for all of us. For instance, even though she lost her case, she doesn’t expect to pay a cent. 

Here’s a transcript of the episode. 

More helpful resources

Want to try some of Lauren’s tactics? 

Looking up billing codes: The latest First Aid Kit newsletter is all about fact-checking medical bills and includes a section about examining billing codes. We'll go deeper on those codes in the next installment. 

Dealing with debt collectors: We discussed knowing your rights when dealing with debt collectors with a couple of experts in this very-fun episode.

Lauren got her dealing-with-debt-collectors playbook from journalist and friend-of-the-show Marshall Allen. His book, Never Pay the First Bill, includes a template of a letter you can send to a debt collector, challenging them to document their claim.

Exploring small claims court: We first got tipped off to this aggressive approach in a story we re-played recently: Can They Freaking Do That?!? 

... and followed up with the story of Jeffrey Fox, who successfully used small claims court to force a big hospital to refund a $2,000 charge. David vs. Goliath.  

Send your stories and questions. Or call 724 ARM-N-LEG.

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

Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

More episodes from An Arm and a Leg

John Green vs. Johnson & Johnson (part 2)

This is part two of our globe-spanning story about drugs, patents, and YouTube megastar John Green. 

Quick recap: In our last episode, we learned how writer and YouTube star John Green …

John Green vs. Johnson & Johnson (part 1)

This episode  is special. When we heard that widely-beloved writer John Green was rallying his online community  around a fight over drug prices — and apparently making a difference — we …

How to Get a Surprise Bill on Your Way to the Hospital

For a year and a half now, the No Surprises Act has protected patients from some of the most outrageous out-of-network medical bills. But Congress left something pretty crucial out of the …

Wait, what’s a PBM (and how do they work)?

If you’ve been told your insurance won’t cover your meds — or that you’re gonna have to pay an arm and a leg for them — you’ve met a PBM: a pharmacy …

Credit Card, Please

A listener’s doctor wanted her credit card info up front — before her appointment. She wondered: Do I need to give it to them? We did too. 

After all, who wants the risk of being overcharged …

How you can listen to this podcast

You can listen to episodes right here on the website, or if you prefer, in a podcast app. Listening in an app makes it easier to keep track of what you’ve already heard, listen without using your data plan and many other conveniences.

Recommended apps
Start listening to Mom vs. Texas
Start listening to Mom vs. Texas