An Arm and a Leg, Season 3 Launches Nov. 14 2019
- Podcast about the cost of health care will focus on “self-defense” from crazy medical bills, because “the cavalry is not coming.”
- New feature for Season 3: Can They F—ing DO That?!?
- Legendary narrative-audio editor Ann Heppermann joins for new season
|Dan Weissmann, host and executive producer||Elka Karl, press contact|
Outrageous medical bills can take lots of forms: A $2,800 bill — after insurance — for stitches. A $250 charge tacked onto a “free” health screening. Or the kind of six-figure nightmare that haunts everyone this side of Bill Gates.
When the hit podcast An Arm and a Leg returns with its third season on November 14, it will focus on stories about how we can protect ourselves from those kinds of surprises. A new feature — Can They F—ing DO That? — takes on stories and questions from listeners.
“The cavalry is not coming,” says host Dan Weissmann. “Presidential candidates are talking about big plans to change American health care, but none of that is happening any time soon.”
Even if a new President were to get sweeping legislation passed in their first 100 days, Weissmann says, it would take years to put a new system into place.
“That’s a lot of GoFundMe campaigns from now,” Weissmann says. “It’s a long time to wait for the cavalry.”
An Arm and a Leg launched in Fall 2018. “From the start, we’ve aimed to be more entertaining, empowering and occasionally useful than enraging, terrifying and depressing,” Weissmann says.
The show’s first batch of episodes included a collaboration with 99 Percent Invisible, where Weissmann’s work had appeared several times before. An early version of another episode first ran on NPR’s Planet Money. An Arm and a Leg has been featured on Apple Podcasts and other apps, including Castbox, Overcast, and NPR One. In September, the show was named to DiscoverPod’s Best Podcasts of 2019 (So Far).
“It’s well-reported, but it’s also personal,” writes reviewer Wil Williams. “It’s about a heavy, stress-inducing topic, but it’s also funny and casual. … It’s a fun enough listen to strip away the panicked fears you might have about healthcare, if you’ve ever had to be afraid about medical bills, while reminding you that a fury about the system really is righteous.”
For Season 3, editor Ann Heppermann — called a “sort of Goddess of podcasting” by Bitch Magazine — joins the team. Heppermann has reported, produced and edited for everywhere under the sun, including This American Life, Radiolab, 99% Invisible, and many others. She has received numerous awards, including a Peabody, and in 2011 was named a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow.
“Ann Heppermann has been a heroine of mine since I started making audio stories,” says Weissmann. “I’m incredibly honored to be working with her.”
Non-profit news powerhouse Kaiser Health News, which joined An Arm and a Leg as a co-producer with Season 2, returns for this season. KHN, which is not affiliated with the health care provider Kaiser Permanente, is a nonprofit news service committed to in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics. Its stories regularly appear in outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, CNN, and CBS News.
KHN’s editor in chief, Elisabeth Rosenthal, is the author of the New York Times best-seller An American Sickness: How healthcare became big business, and how you can take it back, which was an inspiration for An Arm and a Leg.
Season 3 of An Arm and a Leg starts on November 14 and will run for nine weeks.
An Arm and a Leg: A new podcast by a veteran public-radio reporter about the cost of health care
Contact: Dan Weissmann November 2018
For immediate release | PDF version
Reporter Dan Weissmann launches a podcast about the cost of health care, An Arm and a Leg, on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The launch arrives during open-enrollment for Obamacare exchanges and many employer-sponsored health plans.
“An Arm and a Leg will be entertaining, empowering—even useful,” says Weissmann, a veteran of the nationally-broadcast public-radio show Marketplace and Chicago’s WBEZ.
The show will release its first three 20-minute episodes as a binge-able batch, including one episode produced in collaboration with the hit podcast 99 Percent Invisible. Weekly episodes will follow through December 18.
An Arm and a Leg takes cues from public-radio powerhouses like Planet Money— which began its playful take on economics with a real-time account of the 2008 financial crisis– and Death, Sex and Money, which mines conversation about important, intimate, and often-scary topics.
“As a reporter, I’ll bring my skill at finding and telling revealing, surprising stories,” Weissmann says. “But the project’s ultimate focus is bringing people together. We may be screwed, but we don’t have to be alone. And if we want to get even a little bit less-screwed, we need each other. I mean, I’m in this mess too.”
Weissmann and his family are still figuring out their own health-insurance plans for 2019, in a household with two self-employed parents and a 9-year-old son, each with a mix of pre-existing conditions. Their story forms a backdrop to parts of Season 1, including the pilot.
Episode 2 tells the story of a woman who needs a drug that costs more than $500,000 a year — and what she did when her family was about to lose their health insurance. Episode 3 tells how that drug got its eye-popping price tag — a story involving a Connecticut housewife, a 1970s TV star, and a Las Vegas-area maker of popcorn and nacho cheese sauce.
Later episodes include:
- A great hack, from the Renaissance (fair): Workers at Renaissance fairs have crafted a creative, home-brew safety net and—like magic—have made $2.5 million in medical bills disappear. (A brief version of this story ran on NPR, produced with Planet Money.)
- What one reporter learned from 1,300 ER bills: Sarah Kliff thought she knew a lot about the cost of health care, having covered it for years, for the Washington Post and Vox. Then she asked readers to send her their ER bills.
- Why health insurance actually sucks: The story of one guy’s simple leg brace pulls back the curtain on how health insurance companies allow—even encourage—crazy price-gouging by hospitals.
Click for a full season rundown.
In addition to Weissmann, the show’s staff includes editor Whitney Henry-Lester and consulting producer Daisy Rosario.
The show is being launched and distributed independently, with financial support from individual donors and a grant from the Chicago AWESOME Foundation. Through fiscal sponsorship by Public Narrative, a Chicago-area non-profit, donations are tax-deductible.