Archive


Category: An Arm and a Leg

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: Good News for Your Credit Report

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. Credit reporting bureaus announced in March that they would start taking most paid medical debt off people’s credit reports. At first, we weren’t sure that would be such a huge deal. After all, the unpaid medical debt would still […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: Private Equity Is Everywhere in Health Care. Really.

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. When a listener wrote to us about a pricey colonoscopy quote, we got curious. It turns out, a few years back, investors identified gastroenterology as their next hot-ticket item.  Private equity companies are the house-flippers of the investment world, […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: A Fight for the Right to Help

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. Americans get sued over medical debt. A lot. And — no surprise — many folks getting sued can’t afford lawyers.  But for a non-lawyer to give even basic advice in a lawsuit is a crime. Such a helper could […]

  • How to Avoid Surprise Bills — And the Pitfalls in the New Law

    Patients are no longer required to pay for out-of-network care given without their consent when they receive treatment at hospitals covered by their health insurance since a federal law took effect at the start of this year. But the law’s protections against the infuriating, expensive scourge of surprise medical bills may be only as good […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: Need an Expensive Drug? Here’s What You Need to Know

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. Lillian Karabaic teaches personal finance to millennials through a podcast and community called Oh My Dollar! — and she needs an expensive drug to treat a chronic condition. That makes her an expert on one of the most complex arrangements in the […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: Know Your ‘No Surprises’ Rights

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. On Jan. 1, Americans woke up with some new protections from giant medical bills.  Meet the No Surprises Act. It’s a new law that protects patients from one of the worst experiences the U.S. health care system has to […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: The Rapid-Test Edition: Who’s Making a Buck?

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. Rapid, at-home covid-19 tests are close to essential if you want to see friends and family this holiday season, and do your best to stay safe.  But they’re freaking expensive and can be hard to find. What the heck […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: She Fights Health Insurers for Fun — And Wins

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. Health insurance is like some medieval horror, law professor Jackie Fox says.  But, funny thing: She also says insurance fights are easy. For her. She’s been helping people win them for 30 years. For Fox, it started when an […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: How to Avoid the Worst Health Insurance

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. This episode kicks off with a wild ride: How one journalist nearly got roped into a scam. While hunting for a new health insurance plan, award-winning journalist Mitra Kaboli got an offer that seemed too good to be true — and […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: The Insurance Warrior’s Battle Plan

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. Matthew Lientz was an engineer for Boeing for over 30 years. When he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, he needed surgery from an expert doctor in another state. Although the surgery was his only option, his […]

  • How to Crush Medical Debt: 5 Tips for Using Hospital Charity Care

    What if a law passed but no one enforced it? That’s essentially what has happened with one small but helpful rule about hospitals and financial assistance for medical bills. The Affordable Care Act, the health law also known as Obamacare, requires nonprofit hospitals to make financial assistance available to low-income patients and post those policies […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: How One State Protects Patients From Hospital Lawsuits

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. In Maryland, hospitals had been suing people — taking them to court and garnishing wages — even though these patients legally qualified for financial assistance, also known as charity care. Those lawsuits are now illegal, because of the state’s new Medical Debt Protection Act. But in many other […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: They Turned Grief Into Action

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. In 2004, 24-year-old Manny Lanza urgently needed surgery for a life-threatening brain condition. But he didn’t have insurance, so his hospital refused to schedule the treatment — until it was too late. Manny died waiting.  In the months that followed, Manny’s parents, Reynaldo Prieto and Levia Lanza, […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: How Charity Care Made It Into the ACA

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Charity care is one tiny provision in the giant Affordable Care Act, and it can make a big difference for patients who face huge bills. How did it get into the law? One Republican senator made sure the ACA required nonprofit hospitals to act more like charities […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: Meet the Mississippi Lawyer Who Helped Start the Fight for Charity Care

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, famous for taking on Big Tobacco in the ’90s and winning, worked on a series of ill-fated national lawsuits against nonprofit hospitals. The goal? Get nonprofit — or “charity” — hospitals to actually provide charity care instead of price-gouging and dunning low-income patients.  Scruggs […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: When Your Insurance Company Says No, How to Ask for a Yes

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Jeannine Cain started her career dealing with insurance companies for various medical offices. Later she worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield, and now she is a health care data consultant. She really knows how things operate behind the scenes. When her son got a jumbo-size medical bill, […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: Revisiting Insulin: How the Medicine Got So Expensive

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. We’re re-releasing a story we first reported in 2019, about how insulin got to be so expensive. And this 2021 update  includes a check-in with people working to make the potentially lifesaving medicine more available. The story seems especially relevant right now, for two reasons: The rollout […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: How to Avoid a Big Bill for Your COVID Test

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Tests for the coronavirus are supposed to be free. And, usually, they are. But sometimes … things happen. Here’s how to keep those things from happening to you. New York Times reporter Sarah Kliff has been asking readers to send in their COVID-testing bills. She’s now seen hundreds of […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: TikTok Mom Takes On Medical Bills

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Shaunna Burns went viral on TikTok, partly because of a series of videos dishing out real-talk advice on fighting outrageous medical bills. She said the way to deal with medical debt is to be vigilant about what debt you incur in the first place. “What you can […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: How to Fight Bogus Medical Bills Like a Bulldog

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. After Izzy Benasso had knee surgery, she and her dad received a letter from a surgical assistant giving notice that he “had been present” at the procedure. The surgical assistant was out-of-network and seemed to be laying the groundwork to get the Benassos to pay his fee. […]

  • ‘An Arm and a Leg’: Financial Self-Defense School Is Now in Session

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. When you need medical care, it can be a lot like entering a casino — playing for your financial life with the deck stacked against you. But in this episode, reporter Celia Llopis-Jepsen offers insight and tips no dealer will divulge. She got a health care executive […]