White and yellow text on green background: How middlemen drive up medical bills: they cut back your insurance coverage and take a big cut themselves.

Folks who expected their health insurance to cover some out-of-network care have been getting stuck with enormous bills instead. Like one couple from Kansas City: Their insurance hung them out to dry for thousands of dollars, all while sending statements touting a “discount” the couple was supposedly getting. 

Turned out: A middleman was cutting their coverage — actually a middleman’s middleman — working with their insurance company. The couple’s insurer got the “discount,” and the middlemen got big fees. 

And of course this couple wasn’t alone. A recent New York Times investigation from reporter Chris Hamby documented and explained this Russian-nesting-dolls-of-middlemen scheme. 

Insurance companies (middleman #1) work with a with a company called MultiPlan (middleman #2), which slashes the amounts the insurance plans actually pay for care.

To show how it all works — and what we can maybe do about it — we dive into the hidden mechanics of health insurance.  

Here’s a transcript of this episode

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