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An Arm and a Leg on Smash Notes

An Arm and a Leg podcast.

December 31, 2019

No surprise, the cost of health care is… unhealthy. Reporter Dan Weissmann digs up revealing, surprising stories-- and some straight-up hacks-- that can help us get a little less scared and confused about the mess we’re in. We may be screwed, but we’re together. Let's talk



Episodes with Smash Notes

An update on Jared Walker, whose viral TikTok described a little-known (& effective) recipe for “crushing” hospital bills. He's been responding to a mountain of requests for help—and building a system to respond more effectively, thanks to a s...

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. It was a whole vibe.

Health care insiders get stupid medical bills too. One of them taught us how to write an insurance appeal—like the one that saved her son $14,000. Now she's sharing that letter—and her notes to us about why she chose to include certain words and k...

When Adam Woodrum's insurance denied a claim for an ER bill, he sent his story to NPR... because he happened to KNOW how to deal with it. And he figured it would be a friendly thing to share what he knew. (Kudos, Adam!)

This story was originally...

How hard is it to pick the best health insurance? ECONOMISTS find it hard. Lots of folks are suddenly eligible to pick new health insurance thanks to the big stimulus bill Congress passed in March—so we thought it'd be useful to bring this 2018 st...

... and it's gonna take us a little while to get it ready for you— maybe a couple months. Meanwhile, we'll have little updates for you here and there. ... and it's a great time to sign up for our newsletter, where we'll have details...

With COVID vaccinations ramping up, it's time to check in: Who's been trying to make a buck? And who's been doing their best to serve the folks who need help the most? In Philadelphia, the good, the bad, and the ugly have all been on viv...

Updating a story we first reported in 2019, about how insulin got to be so horribly expensive—the scientists who discovered it did NOT want price or profits to keep it away from people who need it—and what some people are doing about it.

A viral TikTok video offers a legally-sound recipe for "crushing" medical bills. Government filings show it could wipe out billions in debts every year—with enough elbow grease. Jared Walker and his group Dollar For say they've done a fe...

Jeff is a lawyer who used to represent medical-bill collectors in court. But he switched sides, and he's here to tell us what he knows. Like: We have more rights than we probably know. It can be tough to get them enforced, but he's got tips ...

2021 is off to a rough start, but we've got a couple small things that don't completely suck. First, a new federal rule could help cut through one completely-ridiculous issue. Then, a listener describes how he headed off an insurance nightmare.

Former health-care executive Wendell Potter spent part of 2020 publishing high-profile apologies for the lies he says he told the American people in his old job—and trying to debunk the myths he once sold. His story is a modern Christmas Carol.