For Press

An Arm and a Leg: A new podcast by a veteran public-radio reporter about the cost of health care

Contact:  Dan Weissmann
[email protected]   |  (773) 474-9396

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.