An Arm and a Leg

‘An Arm And A Leg’: A Medical Bill Ninja Shares Her Secrets

On Season 3, Episode 2 of the podcast “An Arm and a Leg,” an Illinois woman harnesses a lifetime of experience — and frustration — with health care finances to help other people solve their medical bill problems.
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Meredith Balogh has spent years learning to navigate the financial side of the health care system.

Balogh, who has Type 1 diabetes, has saved herself and her family many thousands of dollars. She has made a habit — even a hobby — of helping others: people with diabetes, co-workers and strangers on the internet.

“There’s only three things that you’re fighting,” she said. “Problems with competence, problems with greed and problems with maliciousness. And, luckily, most things are incompetence.”

Balogh said she has never had a lot of money, and for years she didn’t have health insurance. But she has become a master at climbing what she calls the “billing info ladder.”

“I do this for fun!” she said, laughing.

She checks in on forums like Reddit’s r/HospitalBills in search of people to help.

Online, Balogh sagely shares her ninja ways for negotiating with a doctor’s office or finding the right thing to say when you call a hospital billing department. Words like “charity care” and “financial aid” are key.

“You are negotiating for your life, be polite ALWAYS, maybe cry a little, but keep asking,” she told one person on Reddit.

Season 3’s Episode 2 of “An Arm and a Leg” begins with Balogh’s story but ends on a personal note: It turns out saving nearly $800 on your medical bill is kinda romantic.

Season 3 is a co-production of Kaiser Health News and Public Road Productions.

To keep in touch with “An Arm and a Leg,” subscribe to the newsletter. You can also follow the show on Facebook and Twitter. And if you’ve got stories to tell about the health care system, the producers would love to hear from you.

To hear all Kaiser Health News podcasts, click here.

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Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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