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An Arm and a Leg

An Arm and a Leg

A show about why health care costs so freaking much, and what we can (maybe) do about it. Hosted by award-winning reporter Dan Weissmann (Marketplace, 99 Percent Invisible, Planet Money, Reveal).

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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Top 10 An Arm and a Leg Episodes

Best episodes ranked by Goodpods Users most listened

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11/16/23 • 18 min

Last fall, actor-writers Ellen Haun and Dru Johnston were hustling to get their health insurance sorted out for 2023. To qualify for insurance through the actor’s union, SAG-AFTRA, Ellen would have to book a little more work — doable, but not a sure bet.


So they came up with a plan: crowdfund a bunch of money to make a short film, starring Ellen ... called “Ellen Needs Insurance,” of course.


It worked! And the movie, a 13-minute comedy, is terrific.


Ellen and Dru sat down with us to go over how they made the whole thing happen, and how this year’s Hollywood strikes changed their perspectives.


Here’s a transcript of this episode.


ALSO: Hey, it’s the BEST time to support this show with a donation. Thanks to NewsMatch, any gift you make, up to $1,000, will be doubled. It’s a great deal, and it will set us up to kick maximum butt in 2024. Here’s the link, go for it!



Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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11/16/23 • 18 min

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COVID testing—the kind they send to a lab— is supposed to be free in the U.S. But it’s never been quite that simple. We’re revisiting our sadly-still-relevant interview with Sarah Kliff from the New York Times, who joined us in November 2020 to share what she learned from reading hundreds of COVID testing bills.


Her advice? Avoid the ER, do some research ahead of time, and ask if they’re going to do any other tests (which may not be covered 100%).


We summed up some of her advice in a recent First Aid Kit newsletter, and then added some more COVID-test advice in this week's First Aid Kit.


Here's a transcript for this episode.

Got a story to tell, or a wild bill to share? Get in touch.

We can only make this show because listeners like you support us. Wanna pitch in?



Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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01/13/22 • 23 min

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09/07/23 • 22 min

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 were pumped. And this story took us in so many different directions: Literally around the world, and then straight back home.


The drug in question is bedaquiline, made by Johnson & Johnson. It treats drug-resistant tuberculosis, and its price has been a huge obstacle to getting it to places it’s needed most — primarily places far away from the U.S.


But the reason this TB drug costs so much overseas is also one of the main reasons that important drugs here are so expensive — drugs like insulin, Humira and... well, just about everything:


Legalistic patent games that pharma companies have mastered.


So, in addition to John Green — and yes, we talked with John Green — we also talked with one of the world’s leading experts on drug-patent games, Tahir Amin.


Also, John Green is a great storyteller. So hearing him tell the story of how he became obsessed with tuberculosis is bittersweet.


And in order to make sense of any of this, we had to dig into the story of how John Green and his brother Hank became (and remain) YouTube superstars.


For more than 16 years, they’ve been building a community of “nerdfighters” — nerds fighting to make the world a better place. It’s a profoundly sweet and fun story, and everything we’re trying to do here owes them a debt.


Oh, finally: This is, as you’re probably guessing by now, an epic story. It’s gonna take two full episodes of An Arm and a Leg to tell it all.


So, we hope you enjoy part one. There’s more coming in a few weeks.



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09/07/23 • 22 min

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First: an update on our recent two-parter with the writer John Green, about the global, decades-long fight to make an important tuberculosis drug more widely available.


Just two days after we posted part 2, the activists waging that battle scored a major victory. John Green was kvelling on YouTube, of course. We’ll get you up to speed.


And for the meat of this episode, we’ve got a guest a lot of you have been asking for: Physician/comedian Will Flanary, AKA Dr. Glaucomflecken.


His punchy videos satirizing the absurdities and cruel complexities of the American health care system have been a fan favorite for years among An Arm and a Leg listeners (and us too).


We’re sharing a delightful and moving conversation with Dr. G and his wife, educator Kristin Flanary (AKA @LadyGlaucomflecken online), from our pals at The Nocturnists, a podcast about the experiences of health care workers.


As the Glaucomfleckens tell Nocturnists host Dr. Emily Silverman, the inspiration behind Flanary’s most biting videos. came from the couple’s experience dealing with health insurance after he suffered a near-fatal heart attack.


Check out the Nocturnists here or wherever you get your podcasts, and Dr. Glaucomflecken’s videos on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

Send your stories and questions for An Arm and a Leg, or call 724 ARM-N-LEG.


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



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10/19/23 • 64 min

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09/28/23 • 26 min

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 kicked up a fight with Johnson & Johnson over a medicine called bedaquiline. And appeared to score a victory.


Here, we dig into the backstory: How everything John Green and his fans won was built on activism going back 20 years, and spanning multiple continents.


All of it illustrates how pharma companies work the patent system to extend their legal monopolies on medicine way beyond the standard 20 years, and how that leads to high drug prices here and abroad.


And what we can maybe do about it.


This episode starts in 2004, when India began the process of changing its patent laws to align with global trade rules. Activists there managed to carve out exceptions to the law to prevent some of the worst patent abuses.


Fast forward to this year, when those legal safeguards become key to unlocking new doors in the fight against TB.


Meanwhile, the proponents of those Indian safeguards are here in the U.S., pushing for drug patent reform here. Which not only could help Americans, but also influence global standards.


Here's a transcript of this episode.


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


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



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09/28/23 • 26 min

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Introducing: Last Day

An Arm and a Leg

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02/10/22 • 41 min

Stephanie Wittels Wachs has made the show about a topic that's actually too enraging, terrifying, and depressing for An Arm and a Leg: the opioid crisis. And it's as entertaining, empowering and useful as we could ever want. It's called Last Day. Here's episode 1. (In case you need convincing that it's entertaining, we'll tell you: In this episode, she interviews comedians Sarah Silverman and Aziz Ansari at length.)


Part of what makes Last Day so good is that Stephanie is a great storyteller — as well a truly tireless crusader, and a witty, real-as-they-come human being. We should know — we had her on An Arm and a Leg to talk about how she and a few other Texas moms got state laws changed to cover hearing aids for kids. (You can catch that episode here: https://armandalegshow.com/episode/mom-vs-texas/)


If you haven't already met her there, you're going to love her here.

It turns out that nearly everybody you know is either struggling with — or loves someone, or knows someone — who is struggling with some really difficult shit....and for some reason, we continue to keep these stories hidden away. Just eating at our insides. This is a show about that.
  • Stephanie Wittels Wachs, from Season 1, episode 1 of Last Day.

Last Day made a second season, about suicide and mental health, and its third season, about America's gun-violence epidemic, is coming this spring. You can listen to everything, and subscribe to get new episodes, here: https://lemonadamedia.com/show/lastday/



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02/10/22 • 41 min

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Yep. This viral TikTok video's recipe for "crushing" medical bills is legally sound. And IRS filings from thousands of hospitals attest to $2.7 billion of crush-able debt from a single year— a number that experts say looks more like a floor than a ceiling. Of course, it'll take a lot of work to actually zap those debts. But Jared Walker is off to a promising start. His organization, Dollar For, had already helped wipe out millions in medical bills before he made that video.

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02/11/21 • 26 min

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We're re-releasing and 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, today.

The story seems especially relevant right now, for two reasons:

  1. the COVID vaccine process has reminded all of us how vital it is to BOTH get breakthroughs in the lab AND to make sure everyone can afford to benefit from them.
  2. The second half of the episode—about ways that folks who need insulin are taking action on their own behalf—turns out to have been a sneak preview of this show's current focus on self-defense.

Also, the whole thing is a wild ride. And: The updates from people we talked to in 2019? All more encouraging than we'd expected.


Here's a transcript for this episode.

Send your stories and questions: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG

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



Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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02/25/21 • 31 min

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How hard is it to pick the best health insurance? ECONOMISTS find it hard. Including one who has studied the question, "How hard can it be to pick a decent insurance plan?"

Lots of people are suddenly eligible to pick possibly-cheaper health insurance thanks to the American Rescue Plan—the big stimulus bill Congress passed in March—so we thought it could be useful to bring this 2018 story back.


Also useful: This essay from health-care reporter Zachary Tracer about how he picked his health insurance, with directions for you (that start with pouring yourself a drink)


There are more how-tos, and health insurance basics, on our web page from the original version of this story.


And here's a VERY useful tool, described in the episode—for if you live in DC, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, or Vermont


As always, we'd love you to share a story or support this show.



Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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04/28/21 • 20 min

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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. The story of how he became a whistle-blower is a modern-day Christmas Carol. And it's a story about the long, messy process of change—whether that’s changing your own life or trying to change a bigger system.

It’s a great way to close out a pretty-terrible year.


Another cheerful note: THANK YOU!!! Your support for this show has MAXED OUT the matching program NewsMatch. It’s a huge, huge boost for our work in 2021.

Of course, we could still use your support before the year ends. We would love it. There is SO much work ahead.


AND, if you’re looking for other places to help out, here are a few places doing powerful work:

  • Remote Area Medical runs free pop-up clinics— and seeing one played a role in Wendell Potter’s move from Scrooge to whistle-blower.
  • Get Us PPE helps front-line workers get the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe during the pandemic. (And yep, that is still a thing. Grrr...)
  • RIP Medical Debt pools money to buy up old medical debt and forgive it. By doing bulk transactions, they can take a $5 donation and use it to discharge $500 in debt. (We featured their work in a 2019 episode, Christmas in July.)
  • MLK 50: Justice Through Journalism does powerful investigative reporting. After they exposed how the biggest hospital in Memphis was suing patients over unpaid bills, the hospital was shamed into dropping thousands of lawsuits and erasing almost $12 million in debt.

And of course it is absolutely not too late to support this show. Here’s that link: https://armandalegshow.com/support/


Send your stories and questions: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG



Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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12/29/20 • 21 min

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FAQ

How many episodes does An Arm and a Leg have?

An Arm and a Leg currently has 113 episodes available.

What topics does An Arm and a Leg cover?

The podcast is about Health & Fitness, Society & Culture, Documentary and Podcasts.

What is the most popular episode on An Arm and a Leg?

The episode title 'To get health insurance, this couple made a movie' is the most popular.

What is the average episode length on An Arm and a Leg?

The average episode length on An Arm and a Leg is 21 minutes.

How often are episodes of An Arm and a Leg released?

Episodes of An Arm and a Leg are typically released every 14 days.

When was the first episode of An Arm and a Leg?

The first episode of An Arm and a Leg was released on Oct 11, 2018.

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