An Arm and a Leg

An Arm and a Leg Podcast

A podcast. Because we need to talk about the cost of health care

A place where they do health care more cheaply and effectively. (And yes, it’s in the U.S.)
For our Season 2 finale, time for some inspiration. For 30 years, James Gingerich has run a super-effective clinic in Indiana, delivering great results at low cost — to high-need, low-income patients. He’s not a modest guy, and two of his brags stand out — as a study in contrasts. One is a quote from … Continue reading "A place where they do health care more cheaply and effectively. (And yes, it’s in the U.S.)"...

An actor walks into a doctor’s office…
Researcher Saul Weiner has been sending fake patients — actors, wired for sound — into real doctors’ offices, to learn about what actually happens, especially: How well doctors really listen to their patients. He’s tallied up what doctors miss (a lot), and how much it costs (ditto).  In today’s episode, we hear what actually happened … Continue reading "An actor walks into a doctor’s office…"...

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 is an editor at the non-profit newsroom ProPublica, and he tipped a colleague —Marshall Allen, who covers health … Continue reading "Whoa, this medical device is spying on me. In my sleep. So my insurer can deny me coverage."...


The insane, surprising history behind insulin’s crazy price (and some hopeful signs in the wild)
The price of insulin is iconic — doubling, tripling, multiplying like crazy, for medicine Type 1 diabetics can’t live without. To understand it, we went back almost 100 years and dug up a story of sweaty Canadian researchers — swatting away flies and doing business with probable dog-nappers, on the way to a Nobel Prize… … Continue reading "The insane, surprising history behind insulin’s crazy price (and some hopeful signs in the wild)"...

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 stories about insulin prices everywhere.  Would we really have something to add? Something that wasn’t just more of the same? (Enraging, terrifying, depressing.) Turns out: … Continue reading "Coming next week: The price of insulin"...

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 knocking that down, but it was WEIRD.  And it meant a big homework assignment for me. Luckily, I got help. Both from some experts, and from the classic Christmas movie It’s … Continue reading "Why are drug prices so random? Meet Mr. PBM"...


How much for an MRI? Well, that depends…
This week, we look at three MRIs with four different price tags, and an enormous range.   The first two price tags come from listener Liz Salmi, who has been living with brain cancer for more than a decade. Liz gets MRI scans twice a year, to make sure the cancer isn’t growing.   A … Continue reading "How much for an MRI? Well, that depends…"...

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 getting creative about collecting — and offering discounts. Which raises questions about why the bills are so high to begin with. We start … Continue reading "To get paid, hospitals get creative"...

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, they’d made a couple of small mistakes, which they were eager to fix. But their insurer was definitely not interested. Caitlin … Continue reading "We thought we had adulted properly"...


Is it ever appropriate to fudge a little? (Season One, episode 8)
Bari Tessler is a little famous as a “financial therapist,” but even she gets rattled by the price of health care. Also: What my family is doing for health insurance next year. This is our Season One finale. Maybe you’d like to subscribe to our newsletter, so we can keep you posted as we prepare … Continue reading "Is it ever appropriate to fudge a little? (Season One, episode 8)"...

Why are ER bills so crazy? With Sarah Kliff of Vox.com. (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 markup on everything that happens there: seven bucks for a band-aid. Twenty dollars for a couple of pills. Reporter Sarah Kliff has collected more than a thousand ER … Continue reading "Why are ER bills so crazy? With Sarah Kliff of Vox.com. (Season One, episode 7)"...


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 insurance, he paid more than $500. Investigative reporter Jenny Gold’s work helps us understand how that kind of thing happens. She compares health care to … Continue reading "Why Health Insurance Actually Sucks (Season One, episode 6)"...

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 this episode I meet Robin Hood and a woman who has made more than $2 million in medical bills… disappear. Also, you’ve started … Continue reading "So, Robin Hood’s got an approach to medical bills. (Season One, episode 5)"...

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 your health insurance for 2019 — or are you going to do without? — and what you’ve learned from past mistakes. … Continue reading "Why you (and I) will likely pick the wrong health-insurance plan (Season One, episode 4)"...


3. 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 our friends at 99 Percent Invisible. Many thanks to Abbey Meyers, Joshua Schein, and Nora Guthrie. Find Us Online Website: http://armandalegshow.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/armandalegshow Instagram: http://instagram.com/armandalegshow Facebook: http://facebook.com/armandalegshow About Us … Continue reading "3. How one drug got its $500,000 price tag. (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 Online Website: http://armandalegshow.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/armandalegshow Instagram: http://instagram.com/armandalegshow Facebook: http://facebook.com/armandalegshow About Us Host: Dan Weissman (www.danweissmann.com) Editor: Whitney Henry-Lester (thedarlingkiller.com) Consulting Producer: Daisy Rosario (@RunDMR...

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 the writer David Foster Wallace called This is Water. It starts with a joke about two young fish swimming along. An older fish passes by and says, “Morning … Continue reading "This is Water, and it sucks. Let’s talk. (Season One, episode 1)"...


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 end in bankruptcy. It’s not healthy. This is my story too, and that’s why I’m making this podcast. Here’s what I’ve got in mind. An Arm and a … Continue reading "A podcast about the cost of health care, coming November 2018"...