Updated: Mar 23
Average Episode Length: 25 minutes
When people ask me 'what has been the most challenging aspect of moving to the USA?' My response is typically the mind-blowing and complex US health care system, followed closely by missing sliced bread that does not taste sweet. As an Australian living in the USA, who has studied public health and done a fair amount of reading on healthcare systems across the world, this podcast is totally my jam. Really though, this podcast is one I would recommend to all Americans as you will walk away armed with the tools you need to better navigate the bewildering world of the American healthcare system.
This podcast, An Arm and a Leg, is an amazing and fascinating exploration into all things the US healthcare system. It may sound like a pretty intense podcast (it kinda is) but it is definitely not boring. In each episode Dan Weissemann, podcast host and creator, explores a specific healthcare topic. It could be about the cost of drugs, how to understand your medical bill, or the extraordinary costs of an ER visit and why. Each of these topics are explored through the real-life experience of a fellow American, with informative interviews and fascinating story telling that often causes your jaw to drop. Honestly, the 20-30 minutes episodes are not long enough.
As I am just about to jump into the 2020 season (the notorious year that it was for healthcare), let me share some of my favorite episodes of the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Season 1, Episode 3: How one drug got its $500,000 price tag is the true story of how the Orphaned Drug Act came to be. Essentially this Act incentivizes pharmaceutical companies to develop and manufacture drugs for rare diseases by giving them market share and thus allowing companies to put their own ridiculous price tag on them. Yeah, there is not much you can do about this one.
I also loved Season 1, Episode 4: Why you (and I) will likely pick the wrong health-insurance plan. This one made me feel a little better about myself, especially as I was choosing my family's own medical insurance plan during open enrollment while listening to this episode. For non-Americans Open Enrollment is typically a 10 day span in which you have to compare the different health insurance plans, provided by your employer, for you and your family for the next year. Miss this window = no health insurance for a whole year. So yeah, no pressure. Moral of this episode, picking the right health insurance plan is so hard that economists, whose job it is to study this stuff, also find it pretty impossible. Light at the end of the tunnel you ask? Some states have a website to help you make a better choice about your plan.
Lastly, a feel good story, Season 2, Episode 15: A place where they do health care more cheaply and effectively. (And yes, it's in the U.S.). This episode is about an amazing clinic in Indiana that is doing health care at super low cost, while focusing on their community and they're getting some pretty incredible results. It's the utopia of health care and I loved it!
Although healthcare can be a heavy topic and you may be thinking, why would I want to become even more disheartened and depressed about my healthcare options? I get it, this sh*t is no joke, yet, my advice is to listen to an episode of An Arm and A Leg here and there, when you're in the mood to take it on. You will become informed and empowered to advocate for you and your family when it comes to your healthcare.