Home Health Insurance Assault of the Medicare Machines

Assault of the Medicare Machines

Assault of the Medicare Machines


Overlaying the American well being care system means we inform some scary tales. This episode of “An Arm and a Leg” feels like an actual horror film. 

It makes use of certainly one of Hollywood’s favourite tropes: machines taking up. And the machines belong to the personal medical health insurance firm UnitedHealth Group. 

Host Dan Weissmann talks to Stat Information reporter Bob Herman about his investigation into Medicare Benefit plans that use an algorithm to make selections about affected person care. The algorithm is owned by a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group.

Herman tells Weissmann that a few of UnitedHealth’s personal workers say the algorithm creates a “ethical disaster” during which care is unfairly denied.

Scary stuff! Such reporting even has caught the attention of highly effective folks in authorities, placing Medicare Benefit plans beneath scrutiny.

Dan Weissmann


Host and producer of “An Arm and a Leg.” Beforehand, Dan was a employees reporter for Market and Chicago’s WBEZ. His work additionally seems on All Issues Thought of, Market, the BBC, 99 % Invisible, and Reveal, from the Heart for Investigative Reporting.


Emily Pisacreta

Adam Raymonda
Audio Wizard

Ellen Weiss

Click on to open the Transcript

Transcript: Son of Medicare: Assault of the Machines

Word: “An Arm and a Leg” makes use of speech-recognition software program to generate transcripts, which can include errors. Please use the transcript as a software however verify the corresponding audio earlier than quoting the podcast.

Dan: Hey there–

So that is type of a horror story. However it’s not fairly the type of story it would sound like at first.

As a result of at first, it would sound like a horror story about machines taking up, making all the choices– and making horrible, horrifying decisions. Very age-of-Synthetic Intelligence.

However that is actually a narrative about selections made by folks. For cash.

It’s additionally type of a twofer sequel– like these motion pictures that pit two characters from earlier tales towards one another. Like Godzilla vs King Kong, or Alien vs Predator.

Though on this case, I’ve gotta admit, the 2 monsters are usually not essentially preventing one another.

Let’s get reacquainted with them. 

On one aspect, getting back from our final episode, we’ve bought Medicare Benefit: That is the model of Medicare that’s run by personal insurance coverage firms. 

It’s bought a vivid and interesting aspect, in comparison with the normal Medicare program run by the federal authorities, as a result of: It will possibly price so much much less, month to month — saving folks cash on premiums. And it typically comes with further advantages, like dental protection, which conventional Medicare doesn’t supply. [I know.]

However Medicare Benefit can have a darkish aspect, which is principally: Nicely, you find yourself coping with personal insurance coverage firms for the remainder of your life. You want one thing — a take a look at, a process, no matter — they may determine to not cowl it.

Which might be scary. 

Our different returning monster — am I actually calling them a monster? — effectively, final time we talked about them, in 2023, we had an knowledgeable calling them a behemoth. That’s United HealthGroup. You may bear in mind, they’re not solely one of many largest insurance coverage firms 

— and possibly not-coincidentally the very largest supplier of Medicare Benefit plans —

they’ve additionally bought a complete different enterprise– beneath the umbrella identify Optum. And Optum has spent the final bunch of years shopping for up a gazillion different well being care firms of each type. 

That features medical practices — they make use of extra medical doctors than anybody else, by an enormous margin. It contains surgical procedure facilities, and home-health firms, and each type of intermediary firm you’ll be able to think about that works behind the scenes — and have their palms in an enormous share of physician payments and pharmacy visits. 

Just a few years in the past, United purchased an organization referred to as NaviHealth, which supplies providers to insurance coverage firms that run Medicare Benefit plans. 

NaviHealth’s job is to determine how lengthy somebody wants to remain in a nursing dwelling, like should you’re discharged from a hospital after surgical procedure, however you’re not able to go dwelling but.

And the horror story– the tales, as dug up by reporters — begins after United purchased NaviHealth.

And based on their studies, it entails folks getting kicked out of these nursing properties who aren’t able to go dwelling. 

Folks getting despatched dwelling who can’t stroll up the steps of their home. Who can’t stroll in any respect. Who’re on feeding tubes. Individuals who NaviHealth’s personal workers are saying, “Wait. This individual isn’t able to go dwelling.”

However their new bosses have informed them: You’re probably not making these selections anymore. 

That is the place machines do enter the image.

NaviHealth’s distinctive providing has all the time been its proprietary algorithm– an algorithm that makes predictions about how lengthy any given affected person may want to remain. 

Earlier than United purchased the corporate, that algorithm was used as a information, a first-guess. People weighed in with their very own judgment about what sufferers wanted.

After United purchased the corporate, folks inside have informed reporters, that modified: The brand new homeowners principally informed their workers, If the algorithm says somebody can go dwelling after x days, that’s once we’re reducing them off.

 Like just about any horror film, this story’s bought folks working round attempting to inform everybody: HEY, WATCH OUT! THERE’S SOMETHING BIG AND DANGEROUS HAPPENING HERE.

And on this case, they’ve truly gotten the eye of some individuals who might need the facility to do one thing about it. Now, what these folks will do? We don’t know but. 

And, by the best way: Sure, I stated on the finish of our final episode that we’d be speaking about Medicaid this time round. That’s coming! However for now, strap in for this one. 

That is An Arm and a Leg, a present about why well being care prices so freaking a lot, and what we are able to possibly do about it. I’m Dan Weissmann. I’m a reporter, and I like a problem. So our job on this present is to take one of the crucial enraging, terrifying, miserable components of American life, and convey you one thing entertaining, empowering, and helpful.

So. I stated that, like each horror film, this one has people who find themselves seeing what’s occurring and are attempting to warn everyone?

Like these motion pictures, we’re gonna comply with a kind of folks, watch them uncover the issue, see how deep it goes, and begin ringing alarm bells. Let’s meet our man.

Bob Herman: My identify is Bob Herman. I’m a reporter at STAT Information

Dan: Stat is a tremendous medical information publication. Bob covers the enterprise of medication there. Bob began engaged on this story in November 2022, after speaking to a supply who runs nursing properties. Bob’s supply was complaining about Medicare Benefit. 

Bob Herman: There have been plenty of cost denials. They only weren’t in a position to receives a commission. And simply offhandedly, the supply talked about like, um, you recognize, and so they’re attributing every little thing to this algorithm. This algorithm stated, You realize, solely 17 days for our sufferers after which time’s up and I went working to Casey Ross 

Dan: Casey is a reporter at Stat who focuses on tech and AI in healthcare. Bob stated, hey, what do you consider this? Wanna workforce up?

Bob Herman: And he was hooked.

Dan: They began speaking to individuals who labored at nursing properties, speaking to consultants, and speaking to households. And it was clear: They had been onto one thing. 

Bob Herman: It took so many households unexpectedly to be like, what do you imply we’re going dwelling? The, you recognize, my husband, my spouse, my grandma, my grandpa, they will’t go to the lavatory on their very own. Like, what do you? It was simply, it was so complicated to folks. It appeared like such a, a chilly calculation,

Dan: One individual they ended up speaking with was Gloria Bent. Her husband Gary was despatched to a nursing dwelling for rehab after mind surgical procedure for most cancers. He was weak. He couldn’t stroll. And he had one thing referred to as “left neglect”: His mind didn’t register that there was a left aspect of his physique. Right here’s Gloria testifying earlier than a Senate committee about how — when Gary arrived on the nursing dwelling — the very first thing he bought was a discharge date. That’s…

Gloria Bent: Earlier than the employees of the ability might even consider my husband or develop a plan of care, I used to be contacted by somebody who recognized themselves as my Navi Well being Care Coordinator

Dan: Gloria says when she informed the nursing dwelling employees she’d heard from NaviHealth, they groaned. And informed her what to anticipate. 

Gloria Bent: I used to be informed that I had simply entered a battlefield, that I might count on a sequence of notices of denial of Medicare cost accompanied by a discharge date that may be two days after I bought that discover.

Dan: Yeah, they stated she’d get two days discover. Gloria says the nursing dwelling employees informed her she’d have 24 hours to attraction every of these, however even when she gained, the denials would maintain coming. In actual fact, they stated,

Gloria Bent: If we gained a few appeals, then we might count on that the frequency with which these denials had been going to return would enhance.

Dan: All of which occurred. NaviHealth began issuing denials July 15, 2022, after Gary had been on the dwelling for a month.

Gloria appealed. She informed senators what the physician who evaluated the attraction discovered: Gary couldn’t  stroll. He couldn’t even transfer — like from mattress to a chair — with out assist from two folks.. That reviewer took Gloria’s aspect.

Her husband’s subsequent denial got here every week after the primary. Gloria gained that attraction too. She says the reviewer famous that Gary wanted most help with actions of each day dwelling. 

The third denial got here 4 days later, and this time Gloria misplaced. 

Gary got here dwelling in an ambulance: As Gloria testified, he couldn’t get into or out of a automotive with out help from somebody with particular coaching. 

And when he bought into the ambulance, he had a fever. The following morning, he wound up in one other ambulance — headed to a hospital with meningitis. He misplaced plenty of the functioning he’d picked up on the nursing dwelling. 

He died at dwelling a number of months later. When Gloria testified within the Senate, all of it was nonetheless recent. She informed them that as terrible as Gary’s sickness and decline had been, the fights with insurance coverage had been an added trauma.

Gloria Bent: This shouldn’t be taking place to households and sufferers. It’s merciless. Our household continues to wrestle with the query that I hear you asking at the moment. Why are people who find themselves sufferers solely on paper or by means of the lens of an algorithm

making selections that deny the providers judged crucial by well being care suppliers who know their sufferers.

Dan: Bob Herman calls Gloria’s story heartbreaking, like so many others he’s seen. 

And his consideration goes to at least one a part of Gloria’s story past denial-by-algorithm. 

As a result of: It’s not only one denial. It’s that sequence of denials. You possibly can attraction, however as Gloria testified, the denials pace up. And you need to win each single time. The corporate solely has to win as soon as. 

I imply, except you’re able to get a lawyer and take your probabilities in courtroom– which, along with being a serious endeavor, additionally means racking up nursing dwelling payments and authorized payments chances are you’ll by no means get reimbursed for, whereas the courtroom course of performs out. 

Bob Herman: This attraction system is designed in such a manner that folks will hand over. You probably have a job, you recognize, even should you don’t, and also you’re, and also you’re additionally attempting to handle a member of the family, um, it’s a rigorous monotonous course of that may chew folks up and spit them out after which the persons are inevitably going to surrender. And I believe in some methods insurers know that.

Dan: Going out on a limb to say: I believe so too. So Bob and Casey’s first story on NaviHealth got here out in March of 2023. They had been the characters within the film who go, “HEY, I THINK THERE’S SOMETHING REALLY BAD HAPPENING HERE.”

And other people began paying consideration. Just like the U.S. Senate. which held that listening to the place Gloria Bent informed her story. 

And just like the federal company that runs Medicare — the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Companies, CMS. 

CMS finalized a rule that informed insurers: You possibly can’t deny care to folks simply from utilizing an algorithm. 

And one thing else occurred too: Bob and Casey began abruptly getting so much MORE info. 

Bob Herman: We acquired so many responses from folks and it simply opened the floodgates for former workers, simply sufferers and relations, simply everybody throughout the board.

Dan: And never simply former workers. Present workers. And what they discovered was: There was completely a method at work in how this algorithm was getting used. It was technique some folks on the within didn’t be ok with. 

And this technique bought developed after United HealthGroup — and its subsidiary, Optum– purchased NaviHealth in 2020. And right here’s what NaviHealth workers began telling Casey and Bob about that technique.

Bob Herman: For a few of us, it’s creating this ethical disaster. Like we all know that we’re having to hearken to an algorithm to primarily kick somebody out of a nursing dwelling, though we all know that they will barely stroll 20 toes.

Dan: What Bob and Casey discovered from insiders– and the way it connects to United’s position as a well being care behemoth– that’s subsequent.

This episode of An Arm and a Leg is produced in partnership with KFF Well being Information. That’s a nonprofit newsroom masking healthcare in America. Their reporters do wonderful work, and I’m honored to work with them. We’ll have a little bit extra about KFF Well being Information on the finish of this episode.

So, NaviHealth — the corporate with the algorithm — bought began in 2015.. And the thought behind it was to make use of information to get folks dwelling sooner from nursing properties in the event that they didn’t truly should be there. 

As a result of there was plenty of proof that some folks had been being stored longer than they wanted. 

Bob Herman: There may be some validity to the concept there’s, there’s wasteful care in Medicare, like, you recognize, there’s been circumstances previously proving that folks keep in a nursing dwelling for manner longer than is critical. And clearly there’s monetary incentives for nursing properties to maintain folks so long as doable. 

Dan: Conventional Medicare does have limits on nursing dwelling care — however should you want “post-acute care” — assist getting again in your toes after leaving a hospital conventional Medicare pays in full for 20 days– just about no questions requested. One of many promoting factors of Medicare Benefit — like promoting factors to coverage nerds and politicians — was that it might lower waste, by asking these sorts of questions. NaviHealth and its algorithm had been designed to assist Medicare Benefit plans ask these questions in a wise manner. 

Bob Herman: There have been… plenty of believers inside NaviHealth that had been like, okay, I believe we’re doing the fitting factor. We’re attempting to verify folks get dwelling sooner as a result of who doesn’t wish to be at dwelling.  

Dan: And as these workers informed Bob and Casey: Earlier than United and Optum got here in, the algorithm had been there as a information — a type of first guess — however not the ultimate phrase. 

NaviHealth has employees individuals who work together immediately with sufferers. And again within the day, the pre-United day, Bob and Casey discovered that these employees might make their very own judgments. 

Which made sense, as a result of the algorithm doesn’t know every little thing about any particular person case. It’s simply making predictions based mostly on the information it has.

Bob Herman: And there was simply, simply this noticeable change after United and OptiMentor that it felt extra inflexible. There’s no extra variation. 

Dan: If the algorithm says you go, you might be just about going.

Bob Herman: United has stated, no, that’s not the case, however clearly these paperwork and different communications that we’ve gotten type of say in any other case.

Dan: As a result of these workers weren’t simply speaking. They had been sharing. Inner memos. Emails. Coaching supplies. All making clear: The corporate wished folks shipped out on the algorithm’s timetable. 

Bob Herman: Paperwork got here in displaying that like this was a fairly specific technique. You realize, UnitedHealth was telling its workers. Pay attention, we’ve this algorithm. We expect it’s actually good. So when it tells you what number of, what number of days somebody must be in a nursing dwelling, keep on with it.

Dan: Persist with it or possibly be fired. Bob and Casey bought paperwork — worker efficiency targets– saying: How shut you keep on with the algorithm’s suggestions? That’s a part of how we’re evaluating your job efficiency. 

Bob Herman: It’s okay. Algorithm stated 17 days, you higher probably not go exterior of that as a result of your job is on the road. 

Dan: Right here’s how intently folks had been anticipated to stay to it. In 2022, worker efficiency targets shared with STAT confirmed that employees had been anticipated to maintain precise time in nursing properties to inside three p.c of what the algorithm stated it must be. Throughout the board.

So, say you had 10 sufferers, and the algorithm stated they every ought to get 10 days. That’s 100 days. Your job was to make it possible for the overall precise days for these sufferers didn’t go previous 103 days.

Then, in 2023, the expectations bought extra stringent: Keep inside one p.c of the algorithm’s predictions. 10 sufferers, the algorithm says 100 days complete? Don’t let it get previous 100 and one. 

Bob Herman: Like that’s, virtually nothing. Like what, what, your palms are tied. In case you’re that worker, what are you going to do? Are you going to get fired? Are you going to do what you’re informed?

Dan: And one one who ended up speaking, to did get fired. 

Bob Herman: Appropriate. Sure. Uh, Amber Lynch did get fired And what she stated was what we had additionally heard simply extra broadly was it, it created this inside battle, like, Oh my God, what I’m doing doesn’t really feel proper. 

Dan: Amber Lynch was a case supervisor. She informed Bob and Casey about onepatient who couldn’t climb the steps in his dwelling after knee surgical procedure. However the algorithm stated he was prepared. Amber’s supervisor stated, “Have you ever requested the nursing dwelling employees in the event that they’ve tried to show him butt bumping?” Amber grit her enamel and made the suggestion to the rehab director.

Amber Lynch: And he or she checked out me like I had two heads. She’s like, he’s 78 years outdated. He’s not going to do this. He’s not protected to climb the steps but. He’s not doing it. We’re not going to have it butt bump the steps.

Dan: Amber informed Bob and Casey that when she bought fired, it was partly for failing to hit the one p.c goal and partly for being late with paperwork– which she informed Bob and Casey she fell behind as a result of her caseload was so heavy.

She wasn’t the one one with that grievance. 

Bob and Casey’s story exhibits one other NaviHealth case supervisor– not named within the story as a result of they’re nonetheless on the job — of their dwelling workplace, struggling to maintain up. 

That week, they had been presupposed to work with 27 sufferers and their households. Collect paperwork, maintain conferences. One other week, shortly earlier than, they’d had 40 sufferers. 

“Do you suppose I used to be in a position to course of every little thing appropriately and name everybody appropriately the best way I used to be presupposed to?” the case supervisor requested. “No. It’s not possible. Nobody might be that quick and that efficient and seize all the info that’s wanted.”

Bob and Casey watched this case supervisor fill out a digital type, feeding the algorithm the data it requested for on a person in his 80s with coronary heart failure, kidney illness, diabetes and hassle swallowing, who was recovering from a damaged shoulder. 

A couple of minutes later, the pc spat out a quantity: 17 days. 

The case supervisor didn’t have plenty of time or leeway to argue, however they had been skeptical that the algorithm might get that quantity precisely proper based mostly on solely the information it had. 

And what information is the algorithm working with? What’s it evaluating the information on any given affected person TO? Bob Herman says that’s an enormous query.

Bob Herman: It’s one thing that for certain, like Casey and I, it’s been bothering us. Like, what, how is that this entire system? Like, what’s it based mostly on? And we had been by no means actually given straight solutions on that. NaviHealth and Optum and United have stated it’s based mostly on hundreds of thousands of affected person information over time. The sources of that, it’s, it’s a little bit unclear, the place all that’s coming from. 

Dan: Bob and Casey talked with an knowledgeable named Ziad Obermeyer, a professor on the College of California Berkeley Faculty of Public Well being, who isn’t anti-algorithm. He truly builds algorithmic instruments for resolution making in public well being. 

AND he’s finished analysis displaying that some widely-used algorithms simply scale up and automate issues like racial bias.

He informed Bob and Casey: Utilizing an algorithm based mostly on how lengthy different, earlier sufferers have stayed in a nursing dwelling — that’s not an amazing concept.

As a result of folks get compelled out of nursing properties, in his phrases, “as a result of they will’t pay or as a result of their insurance coverage sucks.” He stated, “So the algorightm is principally studying all of the inequalities of our present system.”

And leaving apart that type of bias, it appears unlikely to Bob that any algorithm might predict precisely what each single affected person will want each single time. 

Regardless of how a lot information it’s bought, it’s predicting from averages.

Bob Herman: It jogs my memory of, like, a basketball recreation the place let’s say somebody averages 27 factors per recreation. They don’t have 27 factors each single, the sport they go on the market. It simply varies every so often.

Dan: However the NaviHealth algorithm doesn’t need to be proper each time for United to earn a living utilizing it. 

Utilizing it to make selections can permit United to spice up income coming and going.

Bob Herman: United well being and the opposite insurance coverage firms that use Navi well being. Are utilizing this know-how to kind of kick folks out of nursing properties earlier than they’re prepared. And that’s the claims denial aspect the place it’s like, okay, let’s save as a lot cash as we are able to as an alternative of getting to pay it to a nursing dwelling.

Dan: And that’s only one aspect of it. The insurance coverage aspect. Claims denial. However United isn’t simply within the insurance coverage enterprise. 

United’s Optum aspect is in each different a part of well being care. 

Together with — within the years since United took over NaviHealth — dwelling well being providers. The type of providers you’re prone to want if you go away a nursing dwelling.

In 2022, Optum purchased one high dwelling well being firm in what one commerce publication referred to as a “monster, jaw-dropping mega-deal” — greater than 5 billion {dollars}. In 2023, Optum made a deal to purchase a second mega-provider. 

Bob and Casey’s story says NaviHealth’s shortening nursing dwelling stays is integral to United’s technique for these acquisitions. It does appear to open up new alternatives.

Bob Herman: You’re out of the nursing dwelling as a result of our algorithm stated so. Now we’re going to ship you to a house well being company or we’re going to ship some dwelling well being aides into your house. And by the best way, we personal them. 

Dan: Oh, proper, as a result of: In case you’re in a Medicare Benefit plan, your insurer can inform you which suppliers are coated. 

Bob Herman: So the actual query turns into, how a lot is United probably paying itself?

Dan: That’s: How a lot may United find yourself taking cash out of 1 pocket — the medical health insurance aspect — and paying itself into one other pocket, Optum’s home-health providers?

We don’t know the reply to how a lot United is paying itself on this manner, or hoping to. And United has stated its insurance coverage arm doesn’t favor its in-house companies.

However it looks as if an inexpensive query to ask. Truly, it’s a query the feds appear to be asking.

Optum hasn’t wrapped up its buy of that second home-health firm but, and in February 2024, the Wall Road Journal and different shops reported that the U.S. Division of Justice had opened an anti-trust investigation. 

And also you don’t need to be in a Medicare Benefit plan run by United to get kicked out of a nursing dwelling on an algorithm’s say-so. 

Bob Herman says NaviHealth sells its algorithm-driven providers to different huge insurance coverage firms 

He says, put collectively, the businesses that use NaviHealth cowl as many as  15 million folks — about half of everyone in Medicare Benefit.

Bob Herman: Odds are, should you’re in a Medicare Benefit plan, there’s a, there’s a very good shot that your protection insurance policies, should you get actually sick and want nursing dwelling care, for instance, or any type of put up acute care, an algorithm may very well be at play sooner or later.

Dan: That is the darkish aspect of Medicare Benefit. 

Bob Herman: Everybody loves their Medicare Benefit plan after they first join, proper? As a result of it’s providing all these bells and whistles. It’s, right here’s a fitness center membership. It’s bought dental and imaginative and prescient, which common Medicare doesn’t have. And it’s additionally simply, it’s, it’s cheaper. Like, if it’s simply from a monetary viewpoint, if, should you’re a low earnings senior, How do you flip it down? There’s, there’s so many plans that supply like free, there’s no month-to-month premiums along with all of the bells and whistles. However No person understands the commerce offs , While you’re signing up for Medicare and Medicare Benefit, you’re on the more healthy aspect of, of being a senior, proper?

Dan: And none of us can depend on staying wholesome perpetually. While you join Medicare  you’re signing up your future self — whether or not that’s ten or twenty or extra years out. That future you, may actually need good medical care. 

And at that time, as we defined in our final episode, if Medicare Benefit isn’t working for you, chances are you’ll not be capable to get out of it.

Bob Herman: You possibly can probably not totally get the care that you just want. We shouldn’t assume that, that this couldn’t occur to us as a result of it might probably. 

Dan: So, yeah. Sort of a horror story. However: Not like some horror motion pictures, when Bob and Casey began publishing their tales, they began getting folks’s consideration.

We talked about the brand new guidelines from the feds and the senate hearings after Bob and Casey’s first story in March 2023

Later within the 12 months, when Bob and Casey revealed their story with paperwork and tales from inside NaviHealth, a class-action lawsuit bought filed.

Since then, CMS has stated it would step up audits beneath its new guidelines. 

Bob Herman: There was a memo that CMS despatched out to Medicare benefit plans that stated, Hey, pay attention, we’re telling you once more, don’t deny care solely on any AI or algorithms. Like simply don’t do it. 

Dan: And in February 2024, the Senate held one other listening to. 

Right here’s Senator Elizabeth Warren at that listening to, saying these CMS guidelines aren’t sufficient. We want stronger guardrails.

Elizabeth Warren: Till CMS can confirm that AI algorithms reliably adhere to Medicare protection requirements by legislation, then my view on that is CMS ought to prohibit insurance coverage firms from utilizing them of their MA plans for protection selections. They’ve bought to show they work earlier than they put them in place.

Dan: So folks — folks with at the very least some energy– are paying some consideration. 

Bob Herman: I don’t suppose that is essentially going to flee. Political scrutiny for some time. 

Dan: So, principally, the story isn’t over. 

This isn’t a kind of horror motion pictures the place the monster’s been safely defeated on the finish, and everyone simply begins cleansing up the mess. And it’s not one the place the monster is simply on the free, unleashing the apocalypse. 

As a result of it’s not a film. There’s no ending. There’s simply all of us attempting to determine what’s occurring, and what we are able to possibly do about it.

One final thing: I bought plenty of emails after our final episode, the place we laid out plenty of details about Medicare Benefit and conventional Medicare. Most of it was alongside the traces of, Thanks! That was actually useful! Which made me really feel actually good.

And we bought a pair notes about issues we might have finished higher. Particularly this: We stated Conventional Medicare leaves you on the hook for 20 p.c of every little thing, with out an out of pocket restrict. 

Which is true — however just for Medicare Half B: Physician visits, outpatient surgical procedures and checks. Which might add up, for certain.

Medicare Half A — should you’re truly hospitalized — covers most providers at one hundred pc, after you meet the deductible. In 2024 that’s one thousand, 600 thirty-two {dollars}. 

Because of Clarke Lancina for pointing that out. 

There have been a bunch of different, wonderful notes in my inbox not too long ago, and I wish to say: Please maintain them coming. 

In case you go to arm and a leg present dot com, slash, contact, no matter you kind there goes straight to my inbox. You possibly can connect stuff too: paperwork… voice memos. 

Please let me hear from you. That’s arm and a leg present dot com, slash contact.

I’ll catch you in a number of weeks. 

Until then, handle your self.

This episode of an arm and a leg was produced by me, Dan Weissmann, with assist from Emily Pisacreta, and edited by Ellen Weiss. 

Adam Raymonda is our audio wizard. Our music is by Dave Weiner and blue dot periods. Additional music on this episode from Epidemic Sound.

Gabrielle Healy is our managing editor for viewers. She edits the primary assist equipment publication. 

Bea Bosco is our consulting director of operations. Sarah Ballama is our operations supervisor. 

And Arm and a Leg is produced in partnership with KFF Well being Information. That’s a nationwide newsroom producing in depth journalism about healthcare in America and a core program at KFF, an impartial supply of well being coverage analysis, polling and journalism. 

Zach Dyer is senior audio producer at KFF Well being Information. He’s editorial liaison to this present. 

And due to the Institute for Nonprofit Information for serving as our fiscal sponsor, permitting us to just accept tax exempt donations. You possibly can study extra about INN at INN. org. 

Lastly, due to everyone who helps this present financially– you’ll be able to take part any time at arm and a leg present dot com, slash, help — and thanks for listening.

“An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of KFF Well being Information and Public Street Productions.

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