An Arm and a Leg

An Arm and a Leg

An Arm and a Leg
Oct 15, 2020 28 min

How to handle debt collectors, with the TikTok Mom and a legal expert

There's a reason Shaunna Burns went viral with her videos about dealing with debt collectors: She used to be one, so she knows a few things. (Also she's smart and funny.) We fact-checked her advice with a legal expert: Jenifer Bosco, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. Who said: Yep, most of Shaunna's advice totally checks out. This one's full of useful tips—and it's fun— so please pass it around. Debt collectors are out in force, and as you'll hear in this episode, they can be super-unscrupulous. But, as you'll also learn: We've got rights. You don't need to have heard our earlier episode about Shaunna and her story; you can just start right here. (There's lots of strong language in both this and the previous Shaunna episode, so maybe save them for when the kids aren't around.) Meanwhile, here's a bunch of links to resources: The National Consumer Law Center, where Jenifer Bosco works, publishes the book Surviving Debt - There are chapters on medical debt, dealing with debt collectors, and what to do if you get sued - The book is updated every year - It's free to read online at https://library.nclc.org/sd Consumer-finance expert Gerri Detweiler, who helped fact-check one big question for this episode, has a VERY useful-looking site: https://www.debtcollectionanswers.com/ - She just published a new article with answers to questions like "Can medical bills be sent to collections if you're making payments?" (yep) and "How do I dispute a medical bill in collections? - There's another, more-general primer on medical debt/collections, also updated recently. - Gerri and co-author Mary Reed offer their e-book Debt Collection Answers as a free download. (It was published in 2015, so it may not be as up-to-date.) Shaunna's dealing-with-debt-collectors TikTok videos. We've got links at https://armandalegshow.com/handling-debt-collectors. (Be sure to note Jen Bosco's legal caveats, but these are great and will get you in a fighting spirit.) Send your stories and questions: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG Support us: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Oct 01, 2020 25 min

Your TikTok Mom has some medical-bill tips, and a hell of a story

Forty-something mom Shaunna Burns went viral on TikTok, thanks in part to a series of videos dishing out real-talk advice on fighting outrageous medical bills. She's become the virtual mom that thousands of Gen-Z followers love. She's funny, smart, and relatable—and she's got stories that'll make your hair stand on end. (Yep, medical bills figure into some of them.) Oh, and she can swear like a f---ing sailor. So maybe save this one for when the kids aren't around. Send your stories and questions: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG Support us: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Sep 17, 2020 27 min

A Blast of Hope and Humanity: Here's what perseverance looks like

Laura Derrick fought and endured for decades. When medical bills threatened to swamp her family, she made huge sacrifices, worked unbelievably hard... and helped change the course of history. In a moment when we're all enduring a LOT, it seemed like a great time for Laura's story. It's one of the first stories we ever told on this show, and it has special resonance right now. Bonus: We catch up with Laura for an update. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Sep 03, 2020 25 min

She tangled with health insurance every day for 25 years. And loved it. Here's what she can teach us.

Barbara Faubion got up every day psyched to go to work—which she says puzzled her friends. “They’d go, ‘You love your job?!? You spend your whole day talking to an insurance company. Are you kidding me?’” She wasn’t kidding. Because she loved to win—and she was really, really good at untangling other people’s health-insurance problems. She's here to teach us what she knows. And we'll learn something else too, from a conversation with ProPublica reporter Marshall Allen: Why doesn't EVERY health insurance broker have someone like Barbara on staff? This story he did in 2019 has some big clues. Send your stories and questions: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG Support us: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow (Audio excerpt from “Going Down Now” used with permission. ℗&© 2020 The Rockmores. Published by The Rockmores, Boston, MA www.therockmores.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use is a violation of applicable copyright laws.) See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Aug 20, 2020 23 min

How to fight like a bulldog (against bogus medical bills)

Steve Benasso is an HR director who, his colleagues will tell you, hates insurance companies, and hates seeing people getting taken advantage of. So he fights off weird medical bills and bogus insurance denials for those colleagues. "I am a bulldog on this stuff," he says. "I do it every month." On this episode, he tells us how he does it. Send your stories and questions: https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ or call 724 ARM-N-LEG Support us: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow We are bringing you these self-defense lessons thanks to direct support from listeners. We’d love for you to support us too: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Aug 06, 2020 27 min

Financial self-defense school, now in session: Make your own luck.

If you need medical care, it's like you've entered a casino, playing for your financial life, with the deck stacked against you. Lucky for us, we get insight — and tips the dealer WON'T tell you— from ace reporter Celia Llopis-Jepsen. To start with, she got an executive from a health-care company to talk honestly — maybe more honestly than he realized — about how his company and others are playing the game, when they send patients bills for huge amounts. Here's what else she found, when she investigated an $80,000 bill one man got: For many COVID patients, including the guy in her story, lots of providers just aren't allowed to bill for more than insurance pays them. Those are providers who took some of the $175 billion in bailout funds that Congress passed out in March. Don't expect your provider to just tell you. (That $80,000 bill did not include a footnote saying, "Once insurance pays us, you can forget all about this.") But if you get a bill for COVID treatment, you can make your own luck and look up the provider yourself. Because Celia found a government database where you can SEE if your provider took those funds. We also like Celia's Expert tip sheet for pushing back against your medical bills. ... and her first big medical-bill story— A Kansan's $50k Medical Bill Shows That You Don't Always Owe What You're Charged— is packed with insight too. Note: When this episode was first posted, our host mis-pronounced the first name of a man who received an $80,000 bill. He is Anil Garmalkar. The audio has been corrected. We are bringing you these self-defense lessons every two weeks from here on out. That's thanks to direct support from listeners. We'd love for you to support us too: https://armandalegshow.com/support/ See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Jul 27, 2020 2 min

We’re back! Dealing with the cost of health care seems pretty relevant right now.

There's no time like a pandemic to (a) learn to fight back against the awful cost of health care. And (b) have a good time doing it. Yep. Let’s go. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
May 27, 2020 22 min

The hug shortage, the new abnormal, and the $7,000 COVID test. What we've learned in SEASON-19

We wrap up our COVID-19 popup season with stories from three folks with very different takes on what we've learned so far about what the pandemic is costing us: A doctor and advocate in Brooklyn looks back on the wave of black and brown patients that filled her clinic in March. A nurse-practitioner in Texas looks at how new tech is—and isn't—helping the older patients she cares for. And: One of the country's top insurance nerds says her first policy ideas to keep people from getting stuck with high bills for COVID tests ... were wrong. Get ready for the hug shortage, the new abnormal, and the $7,000 COVID test. And: Help guide the next steps for this show! Take five minutes for our listener survey. We so appreciate it. https://armandalegshow.com/survey/ Thanks to everyone who supports the show on Patreon. You can join 'em here: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
May 20, 2020 21 min

How Katelyn survived COVID—without going bankrupt. (Not easy. She has tips.)

In early April, Katelyn was in a financial bind: Home sick with COVID, she hadn't been paid in weeks. And bills were due. "My landlord is kinda beating down my door right now," she said in a voicemail to our hotline. Weeks later, Katelyn got back in touch: She had made it through, thanks to a combination of playing hardball with one company and knowing how to play nice with others. Because of her job, she had an insider's understanding of the playing-nice process: Katelyn works in collections for a financial institution, so she knew how to ask for help. Even so, she didn't find the process easy. She came out of the ordeal with a heck of a story, and hard-won tips for all of us. In addition, here are a couple of resources mentioned in this story: A collection of tips on dealing with medical bills and collection agencies, from one of our favorite teachers: TikTok mom Shaunna Burns. https://armandalegshow.com/medical-bill-tips-from-a-mom-who-knows-some-things Hello Landlord is a free online tool that automatically generates letters you can send to your landlord, asserting your legal rights. (Right now, those rights may include some federal protections avainst evictions.) https://hellolandlord.org/ You can call and leave us a message too: (724) 267-6534 — that's 724 ARM N LEG Or share stories at https://armandalegshow.com/contact/ Thanks to everybody who supports our work! Join 'em here: https://www.patreon.com/armandalegshow See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
May 13, 2020 16 min

From inside the health insurance company: Angst, and advice we can use.

A listener, who has worked in health insurance for decades, wrote in. "I have listened to all the episodes in this podcast, and there are times I come away feeling bad working for the insurance company." We talked. Along with angst, she shared advice we all can use. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.