Mom vs. Texas (Season 3, episode 1)

Stephanie Wittels Wachs has a daughter born hearing impaired, which is how she found out insurance didn’t cover hearing aids for kids. Those start at $6,000 and only last a few years.

Stephanie teamed up with a few other moms to change Texas law… and won.

Stephanie is a terrific storyteller. She’s the author of Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful, a memoir about grieving her brother, Harris Wittels, a writer for TV comedies like Parks and Recreation, who died of a heroin overdose.

… and she is the host of the new podcast Last Day, which uses her brother’s story as a starting point for a deep and smart and very-human look at the opioid crisis. Highly recommend.

P.S. This podcast, An Arm and a Leg, is a finalist for a very-strange, very-approriate award: Best True Crime show of 2019. Because not all crimes are against the law. Let ’em know: Go vote for us right now — voting closes November 18.

Why are ER bills so crazy? (with Sarah Kliff of

ER Door with Danger SignEmergency 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.

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.


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About Us

Image adapted from a drawing posted to flickr by Wellness Corporate Solutions.

They nominated this cost-of-health-care podcast for a “true-crime” award. OK, then: Let’s win it.

This nomination is dark, and almost too perfect. As one person said: “So funny, and yet not funny at all.”

I mean, this show has no cops, prosecutors, or defendants. But crimes? Yeah, that fits.

So, let’s take advantage, shall we?  Go vote.  Pick us for true crime.


Q: Wait, who even are you?

A. I’m a public-radio reporter who started a podcast last year: a kind of ticked-off  Planet Money, for health care.

Q: Is your show any good? 

I think so, and people have said really nice things about it. Also, we’re also a finalist for Best New Show in this same contest. But True Crime is the category I’m really gunning for.

Q: What’s the show like?

We’re more entertaining, empowering, and occasionally-useful than enraging, terrifying and depressing. That’s the idea — more here.

Also, here’s a trailer for our third season, which starts November 14.

OK? So go subscribe. You’ll find us on Apple PodcastsSpotify, any of the usual places.

And go vote! Pick us for True Crime.

And tell everybody you know.

The main thing is: Let’s win this thing.

I mean, An Arm and a Leg is a good show. You should totally listen.

But winning us this True Crime prize, that’s a statement. Let’s go make it.


You’re helping us shape Season 3

You’re helping us shape Season 3: Here’s some of what we’re learning

About 500 of you responded to our listener survey, and you are amazing. I mean, to start with: you are SO NICE.

Here’s a small selection of things you’re saying you get from the show:

  • My sense of hopeful outrage I guess
  • Because of you guys I was able to face a lingering hospital bill. I ended up talking to the billing department and they reduced my bill by 80%!
  • The system is bananas, makes it feel like I’m not the only one.
  • I love that you don’t shy away from the nuts and bolts or geeky stuff!
  • I feel like this could be part of a consumer movement.
  • Your show is very moving. Greetings from Norway.

One thing LOTS of you are saying you like about the show — and want more of: Useful information. (Noted!)

You’re also saying you find the show entertaining, and that you appreciate the combination of real-people stories and big-picture insight. (Thank you! So nice to hear.)

One thing comes through loud and clear: We are all in this together. People listening to this show represent all ages, all incomes, all levels of education.

That includes lots of folks who work in health care, like this ER nurse in Texas: Listening to your show makes me an advocate for change. Whenever I have the opportunity, my patients get your info!

I heard similar things from doctors, physician assistants, hospital administrators, pharmacists, medical students and med-school professors.

And then there’s this:

Keep doing what you’re doing! I’m a kindergarten teacher in a low-income neighborhood, the people who are screwed by this system the hardest are my students and their families. You give me hope that things will get better and my babies will get healthier.

YES. Let’s do this.