Cover art for podcast An Arm and a Leg

An Arm and a Leg

113 EpisodesProduced by An Arm and a LegWebsite

A show about why health care costs so freaking much, and what we can (maybe) do about it. Hosted by award-winning reporter Dan Weissmann (Marketplace, 99 Percent Invisible, Planet Money, Reveal). Hosted on Acast. See for more information.


Can They Freaking Do That?!? (2023 Edition)

We’re kicking off the year with a throwback. We revisit a 2019 episode that opened up new possibilities for fighting back against outrageous medical bills — a theme we’ll spend a lot more time exploring this year

A listener named Miriam got a bill from a medical testing lab she’s never heard of, for $35. Then, a follow-up bill said if she didn’t pay up right away, that price was going up — WAY up: to $1,287. 

Which raises the kind of  question that comes up a LOT with medical billing: Can some random lab hit you up for money — and then threaten you with a late fee of more than $1,000??

We went to find out.

The answer: They can try. And a lot of the time, they’ll get away with it. But we found experts who explain how, sometimes, we can fight back— by threatening to take them to court.

If you’ve got the time and the moxie, these experts say you’re on solid legal ground, and you really can make the other side accept a fair offer.

We’ll come back to this idea next time. Meanwhile, here’s a 2020 episode with the story of a guy who took his local hospital to court, and won.

The original version of this story, from 2019, found us learning about a couple topics we went on to explored in more depth later:  Surprise bills — which we got new legal protections from in 2022— and the role of private equity in health care, both how it’s been expanding, and how some doctors are trying to fight back.  

Here's a transcript of this episode.

Send your stories and questions: or call 724 ARM-N-LEG

And of course we’d love for you to support this show.

Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

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