We’re back! Here’s a taste of Season Two, coming June 4

Hey there! We’ve been working hard on season 2. We hope you enjoy this preview — there’s so much good (and frightening) stuff ahead. It all starts June 4.

We’ve got more to tell about the season — and the amazing new partner that’s helping make it happen.

You can keep up by following the show on Facebook and Twitter — and in our newsletter.

… and you can catch up on Season One, right here. Just scroll down and hit play. Or subscribe (for free) on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other place you get podcasts.


1.  This is Water, and it sucks. Let’s talk.

Scared Goldfish The cost of health care is like water. We’re all surrounded by it. We don’t even see it anymore.

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.

(There’s more at the permanent link to this episode.)

2. All the Marbles: One woman’s epic quest for health insurance

marbles-2614142_640Laura 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.

I was so determined,” she told me. “I was not going to go through all of this, for nothing.”

Here’s a permanent link to this episode.

3. How one drug got its $500,000 price tag. (With 99 Percent Invisible)

popcorn-via-99piThe 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.

Here’s a permanent link to this story.

4. Why you (and I) will likely pick the wrong health insurance.

sad-dogBecause (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.

Also, we’ve got some resources here guides from some smart, friendly folks — to help you get smarter and avoid some worst-case outcomes.

Find those resources at the permanent link to this episode.

5. Is the future of health care at the Renaissance fair?

RobinHoodFullThe 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 sending us stories as voice memos. And they are awesome.

(There’s more at the permanent link to this episode)

6. Why health insurance actually sucks

Pissed Off Sick Boy
Credit: Liza (via Flickr/CC 2.0 License)

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 shopping for a gallon of milk.

“We can look at the cost of a gallon of milk at lots of different stores and decide which one is the best,” she says.At the store, there’s maybe there’s a couple different brands, with the prices on the shelf. We pick the one we want, pay on the way out.

“Now with healthcare,” she says, “the analogy would be, you go to the store for a gallon of milk. You have no idea what it costs. You don’t know what it costs at that store compared to other stores. You walk into a random store, pick out a gallon of milk, go through check-out. You still don’t know what it costs. You give them your credit card information and then a few weeks later you get a bill telling you how much they charged you.”

Super-crazy. Jenny’s reporting shows how insurance companies help to keep those prices hidden, and keep them high.

(More at the permanent link to this episode.)

7. Why are ER bills so crazy? (with Sarah Kliff of vox.com)

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.healthcare costs, medical bills, hospital bills

Reporter Sarah Kliff has collected more than a thousand ER bills from her readers at Vox.

She was an expert on health care before starting this project — she covered it for years at the Washington Post before moving to Vox — but even she found plenty of surprises.

More at the permanent link to this episode.

8. Is it ever appropriate to fudge a little?

Bari Tessler is 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 Season Two.

Also this week: A taste from one of the most painfully-hilarious things to hit the Internet for a long time. Welcome to Our Modern Hospital, Where if You Want to Know a Price, You Can Go F*** Yourself, published by McSweeney’s.

There’s a longer excerpt, and an interview with the author, Alex Baia — that’s on our Patreon.  Thanks to Alex for permission to record excerpts, and to ttsreader for dramatizing the text for us!

Here’s a permanent link to this episode.


Our Trailer!

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 Leg will be entertaining, empowering— even useful. As a reporter, I’ll bring my skill at finding and telling revealing, surprising stories. But the project’s big focus— since I’m in this mess too—is connecting and problem-solving, together. (One segment I’m excited to try out: Car Talk for Health Care.)

You are not alone. We may be screwed, but we’re together. And if we want to get even a little bit less-screwed, we need each other. If nothing else, we can be good company to each other. (more…)