Navigating the U.S. well being care system can really feel like a “battle royale.” From difficult unfair medical payments to wrestling with insurance coverage corporations over pre-authorizations, sufferers should be prepared to stay up for themselves.
So, how will you keep cool and assured in these fights? On this rebroadcast of “An Arm and a Leg” from 2020, host Dan Weissmann hits up self-defense coach Lauren Taylor about methods for standing up for your self and hears how she utilized her strategy in her personal battle for well being care protection.
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-about, Market, the BBC, 99 % Invisible, and Reveal, from the Middle for Investigative Reporting.
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Transcript: Self-Protection 101: Maintaining Your Cool Whereas You Battle
Be aware: “An Arm and a Leg” makes use of speech-recognition software program to generate transcripts, which can comprise errors. Please use the transcript as a instrument however examine the corresponding audio earlier than quoting the podcast.
Dan: Hey there – Earlier than we begin, I simply need to say THANK YOU for supporting our work right here. Because of you, we beat all of our objectives for the top of 2023.
Meaning we collected each greenback of matching funds that have been on provide — and since so many people grew to become donors for the primary time, we earned a bonus from the Institute for Nonprofit Information.
So we’re beginning this 12 months in fine condition, which is nice, as a result of we’ve acquired some huge initiatives deliberate.
Thanks a lot.
Now, in much less pleasant information, I’m combating slightly bit with my insurance coverage firm proper now. Or … is it the hospital billing workplace I’m combating with? Each retains sending me again to the opposite. It’s … a great time.
There’s a First Support Package e-newsletter in all this, however for now I’m struggling to seek out the hours for all of the telephone calls, and to maintain my composure.
On that final word– conserving my composure — this looks like a great time to carry again what would be the most helpful episode we’ve ever accomplished, from late 2020.
You prepared? Right here we go.
I acquired a voicemail from a listener named Amanda Jaffe. She’s been listening to our episodes about people who battle again in opposition to insurance coverage corporations and outrageous payments. And she or he says she’s sort of a bulldog herself on these items. BUT she says there’s a snag. Perhaps you may relate — I positively can.
Amanda Jaffe: After I name the insurance coverage corporations, I begin to get offended to some extent the place possibly it’s unproductive. So I would like some steering on find out how to stay cool when calling insurance coverage corporations. Thanks. I’d actually need the assistance.
Dan: YES. I’ve been fascinated about this for months and months. We’ve been listening to from individuals who battle and battle, and typically win, and a few issues preserve getting clearer:
ONE: You’re most likely gonna spend a LOT of time on the telephone, numerous it on maintain, and numerous it with individuals who, for one motive or one other, are usually not gonna appear that useful.
And TWO, I preserve listening to over and over: You’ve gotta preserve your cool. OK, certain.
However I preserve questioning many times: OK, HOW?
And right now, I feel I’ve acquired precisely the individual I’ve been on the lookout for.
Lauren Taylor: My identify is Lauren Taylor. I run Defend Your self in Washington, DC, and we train individuals abilities for stopping harassment, abuse, and assault.
Dan: So for like a YEAR I’ve been describing this present as being targeted on self-defense in opposition to the price of well being care. And Lauren is an precise self-defense instructor. Has been one for thirty-five years.
And it seems self-defense — the best way Lauren and her colleagues train it — is NOT simply the hitting and the kicking. It’s defending your self in opposition to every kind of … encroachment. Avenue harassment. Creepy co-workers. Simply standing up for your self. You would possibly’ve seen, Lauren stated her group teaches individuals abilities for stopping harassment, abuse, and assault.
And abuse … I’m undecided that’s too sturdy a phrase for a way the health-care industrial complicated treats individuals.
So, Lauren herself is simply wrapping up an EPIC battle together with her medical insurance. And she or he has been utilizing self-defense abilities all alongside the best way. I’m not going into all the main points.
Lauren Taylor: There’s been so many issues. I actually can’t bear in mind all of them.
Dan: However we talked by way of them– as a result of she’s acquired ’em written down.
Lauren Taylor: That is additionally a self-defense factor, which is doc, proper?
Similar to you’ll with a stalker or a office harasser or, uh, even uh, An abusive companion, is doc every part as a result of, you would possibly want it
Dan: You train this within the class.
Lauren Taylor: Oh yeah.
Dan: I stroll in, assume I’m gonna discover ways to want anyone within the nuts. And also you’re like, “get a pocket book.” I’m like, wow.
Lauren Taylor: Folks, individuals do stroll in considering they’re going to discover ways to, , knee somebody within the groin, and we do train that. however I can’t let you know how usually in evaluations individuals inform us that they have been utterly blown away by all the opposite stuff that they study, which is de facto about empowerment.
Dan: Sure. Sure, please. Let’s have a few of that.
That is An Arm and a Leg — a present about the price of well being care. I’m Dan Weissmann. I’m a reporter, and I like a problem. So my job right here is to take one of the crucial enraging, terrifying, miserable points in American life– and YES, there’s a bunch of these, however I’m sticking with this one– and produce a present that’s entertaining, empowering, and helpful.
And right here we’re.
Right here’s Lauren’s deal: It begins the early Nineteen Eighties,
Lauren Taylor: I had saved up cash and I used to be gonna take a while and journey on my own. And a pal of mine informed me a few self-defense class that she had taken. And I assumed, “Oh, that’s a very good concept. I ought to most likely do this if I’m going to journey on my own.”
Dan: She says it modified her life. Like, as a youngster, she’d handled a LOT of road harassment. She figured, man, that’s simply the way it goes.
Lauren Taylor: And I had at all times thought that if anyone tried to rape me, there can be nothing I might do as a result of by definition they’d be larger and stronger than me.
And the true life-changing piece of the self-defense class was realizing that that was mistaken. It was realizing that I had energy and that I might damage anyone who was making an attempt to harm me.
Dan: How did that really feel?
Lauren Taylor: It’s, it’s completely life altering. I imply, even now, like, simply inform it to you. I nonetheless really feel like a rush of power by way of my physique saying it.
Dan: It’s thrilling. It’s like, holy shit! I’m not helpless
Lauren Taylor: Yeah. I can defend myself. Yeah. And I’ve energy and, and . An enormous piece of it is also I’ve permission to do that and I should be protected.I deserve to have the ability to defend myself.
And all of these are usually not messages that, you recognize, most of us get rising up nonetheless. And positively not after I was rising up. So, it’s sort of like, caught the fever after which needed to unfold the gospel of self-defense.
Dan: So, she’s been educating self-defense since 1985.
I requested her: So, how did it change your life– past the truth that you began educating it? Like, what did you do in a different way?
She says for starters, she did take that journey, and there was an evening or two that didn’t go based on plan: Her place to crash fell by way of, she was out late, misplaced, slightly scared. And she or he took out a pen, so in case she wanted to harm anyone, she’d have a pen to harm them with. She did NOT have to make use of it, however having a plan helped her preserve cool.
However that wasn’t the massive stuff. The large stuff was standing up for herself in different methods. Like when her boss in a full-time volunteer gig began sexually harassing her.
Lauren Taylor: Whereas earlier than I’d have favored, you recognize, suffered and wrung my arms and journaled about it and referred to as 12 mates and, thought possibly there was one thing mistaken with me and you recognize, all of these issues I didn’t do, I used to be similar to, Actually no, don’t do that.
Dan: After which what occurred?
Lauren Taylor: Ge just about lower it out.
Dan: YEAH. After which there was her mother. Who did NOT deal effectively with Lauren being homosexual. It was painful. After which there was the ultimate straw:
Lauren Taylor: We had a big household reunion and She didn’t invite my companion and she or he invited my siblings companions.
Jesus, ouch. They’d had numerous conversations. Now Lauren set a tough boundary. She put it in writing to her mother:
Lauren Taylor: There are some basic items I would like from you, or I’m not going to have the ability to keep involved with you. Proper. So, if there’s a household occasion, My companion will get invited , that’s self-defense
Dan: That first self-defense class Lauren took had not lined Dealing With Tough Household Members, however Lauren says she’d gotten the message:
Lauren Taylor: It was okay. to require sure sorts of respect from individuals. it was okay to be who I used to be, that wasn’t my fault that folks handled me as lower than all of that sort of stuff.
Dan: And by the best way, Lauren says the lessons she leads now, they DO cowl all that sort of stuff.
In different phrases, self-defense covers a LOT of territory. The large concept: Should you’re in a troublesome spot, you need some choices.
Lauren says she provides college students a five-part framework– 5 sorts of choices.
They’re: Run, yell, hit, inform, and go alongside.
They usually’re not all literal. Like, RUN is …
Lauren Taylor: Depart stroll away. Don’t present up for the appointment, break up with the individual, something that makes you not there.
Dan: And she or he says by YELL, she means: Use your voice.
Lauren Taylor: Assertiveness or deescalation or negotiation, or, you recognize, that’s not okay with me or don’t come any nearer or, you recognize, I gained’t come to household occasions in the event you don’t invite my companion. Proper.
Dan: “Yell” covers numerous territory there.
Lauren Taylor: Every part together with your phrases just about.
Dan: Every part with phrases you employ with the opposite individual. As a result of there’s additionally TELL. Which she says imply — additionally actually broadly — get assist.
Lauren Taylor: It may be getting assist in the second. uh, this individual is bothering me. Can I stand with you? After which there’s, longer-term getting assist going to HR, going to a hotline, , speaking to a lawyer,
Dan: Posting to social media.
Lauren Taylor: Posting it. Proper. precisely.
Dan: Hit is — effectively, it’s really hitting. They follow that too.
After which there’s the final one: Go alongside.
Lauren Taylor: We would like individuals to know that that’s an possibility, proper? We’re not saying. At all times resist. We’re saying resistance is profitable far more than you’ve been informed and far more than you imagine.
However there are occasions when, going alongside, is the neatest and most secure factor so that you can do. And for instance, if somebody’s making an attempt to take your property, proper, if it’s a mugging, And also you need to get out of there, unhurt, the neatest and most secure factor to do is to offer them your property.
Dan: Yeah. I feel you may most likely see the broad outlines of how this might apply to wrangling together with your insurance coverage firm or combating unfair medical payments. I imply, discuss a mugging.
It positively jogs my memory of one thing I stated once we began this self-defense sequence: We’re not gonna win ’em all. We simply don’t should lose all of them both.
So, that’s Lauren’s framework.
Subsequent: Let’s study some SPECIFIC strategies and the way we will begin making use of them. That’s proper after this.
This episode of An Arm and a Leg is produced in partnership with KFF Well being Information. That’s a non-profit newsroom protecting well being care in America. Their work is terrific, wins every kind of awards yearly. I’m so proud to work with them.
OK. The best way to really USE self-defense strategies with medical payments and insurance coverage BS.
We’ll begin with an instance from Lauren’s epic health-insurance battle this 12 months. We’re not gonna get into the story– it’s too lengthy, too bizarre, and it’s not even actually over. BUT we’ll zoom in on a second when Lauren’s on the telephone and the opposite individual opens by throwing up a roadblock, saying, YOU most likely did one thing mistaken.
I’m like, Argh, I’m already offended. What do you do now? And Lauren’s like, “I stayed on my agenda.”
STAYING ON YOUR AGENDA. It is a entire self-defense factor. Lauren walks me by way of it:
Lauren Taylor: Right here’s the method. Okay. One thing’s occurring. You recognize, like anyone is harassing you on the road or no matter …
Dan: Otherwise you’re calling your insurance coverage, and the opposite individual is being REALLY unhelpful.
She says you ask your self three questions, on this order: First, how am I feeling? It’s most likely not nice.
Lauren Taylor: I’m terrified. I’m offended, I’m upset. I need to cry. I really feel humiliated.
Dan: Good instances. That’s the primary query: How am I feeling?
Second: What do I would like? Which is extra big-picture: Must get a secure distance, want respect.
Third, what do I WANT? That is extra particular– what would you like from the opposite individual:
Lauren Taylor: I need you to take your arms off me. I need you to take three steps again. I need you to knock earlier than you are available my workplace. I need you to cease making racist jokes. no matter it’s, you flip it into what I need you to condemn, and that’s your agenda. What you need to occur is your agenda.
So. Then once they do no matter people who find themselves misusing energy do, which is usually. Guilt journey you or making an attempt to control you or blame you want, effectively, why have been you there? Why have been you carrying that? Why did you get drunk? Um, it’s only a joke. Um, why wouldn’t have stated it, in the event you hadn’t blah, blah, blah, or why you being such a bitch?
Um, you recognize, all of these issues are to get you into their net of dialog and off of your agenda and also you keep in your agenda. So if I say to you, don’t ask me about my private life whereas we’re at work. And also you’re like, Oh Lauren, you’re so delicate.
Dan: Yeah, I’m altering the topic. Out of the blue, we’re not speaking about what you need. We’re speaking about my notion of you. And you’ll have a reasonably sturdy impulse to deal with that– Like, “Oh, geez, am I?” Or, “I AM NOT”
Lauren Taylor: However as a substitute I’m simply going to say once more, “Hear, Dan, I requested you. I solely need to discuss work at work. And I actually don’t like answering private questions at work. So please cease asking me.” That’s staying in your agenda.
Dan: And so how did that occur in these telephone calls?
Lauren Taylor: I simply saved saying what I wanted or. I’d preserve saying so what’s the subsequent step? What can we do from right here?
So as an example, Lauren performed out an extended, lengthy set of calls together with her medical insurance firm AND the state workplace that administers the Obamacare alternate in Maryland, the place she lives.
Each time they hit an deadlock, she requested, “What’s the subsequent step?” Finally, the subsequent step was: file an enchantment by way of the state legal professional basic’s workplace. Lauren referred to as, and the primary individual to select up the telephone didn’t have a super-encouraging opening line.
Lauren Taylor: She was like, effectively, I’m certain you missed a deadline. And, um, as a substitute of claiming, I didn’t miss any deadlines as a result of then we’re into her dialog.
I stated, so please inform me extra about find out how to enchantment. Proper? As a result of you recognize, she most likely talks to 100 individuals a day and, you recognize, individuals make every kind of errors and you recognize, it’s an enormous headache to her, I’m certain.
Dan: So Lauren didn’t take the bait. She stayed on her agenda… AND AFTER A WHILE, ONCE THE APPEAL WAS REALLY IN MOTION, Lauren seen the identical lady– who was now calling LAUREN with updates, typically greater than as soon as a day– was singing a special tune. Properly, positively some new phrases.
Lauren Taylor: She was utilizing we language.
Dan: That’s what we like. Yeah,
Lauren Taylor: proper. So I used to be like, Oh, that is going very effectively. she was like, “we simply have to determine this factor out after which we’ll allow them to know.”
OK, that is nice.
AND it’s like: Wait, how do I really do that? Like, within the second? Like, right here’s Amanda’s query once more:
Amanda Jaffe: I begin to get offended to some extent the place possibly it’s unproductive. So I would like some steering find out how to stay cool when calling insurance coverage corporations.
Dan: YEAH. Me too! Me too.
And Lauren reframed it. She was like: OK, getting offended, that’s not an issue, not a mistake. It’s a sense that you simply’re having. And it’s a very affordable feeling to have.
And she or he says Amanda’s nailing it in saying: these emotions most likely aren’t gonna be super-helpful IN this dialog.
So, you need a technique. An agenda. A plan.
Lauren Taylor: Should you can floor your self in the truth that you’re technique is to stay calm and assured whereas nonetheless being very assertive and protracted. that could be a technique, it doesn’t imply that it’s a must to really feel nice about what’s occurring. or that you simply aren’t upset the best way that individuals are treating you. it simply implies that as a technique, you’re selecting to make use of this persona, this frequent, assured, assertive, persistent persona to try to get what you want.
Dan: So, yeah: You’re gonna be mad. That’s gonna occur. You simply don’t wanna act out these emotions within the dialog. So right here’s the precise ADVICE half: You are taking these emotions and…
Lauren Taylor: Do them someplace else. You, you recognize, go for a stroll and pound the pavement. You vent to a pal. Um, if in case you have a automotive, you roll up the home windows and drive on a freeway and scream. Um, you discover, you recognize, you discover a place that’s most likely not alcohol or ice cream too.
Um, To course of these emotions since you don’t need them simply hanging out in you both. That’s not good for you both.
Dan: Which is to say: It could be sensible to have a plan GOING INTO the dialog about the way you’re take care of these emotions afterwards. Perhaps even make a plan with anyone else. You recognize…
Lauren Taylor: Name a pal or a member of the family who’s in your home and say, I’m going to get on the telephone with the medical insurance firm, and we’re going to name you afterwards and vent. Proper. After which, you recognize, I’ve a spot for these emotions. It’s not that I’m squashing
Lauren Taylor: There’s a time for that too.
Dan: I really like that. However in the meantime, right here I’m IN the dialog, and issues are getting furry, and I’m HAVING A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT IT.
Not so calm, not so assured, NOT SO CALM.
Lauren’s like: Proper. Acquired you lined. You need to discover a approach that helps you shortly get calm and grounded within the second. She says listening to her respiratory is her go-to, however
Lauren Taylor: My approach of doing it might not be just right for you or her or anyone else. Folks have to seek out what works for them to remain calm and grounded. So just some concepts. It may be, um, respiratory. It may be feeling your ft on the ground. These are my high two, nevertheless it additionally might be, you recognize, some individuals saying a fast prayer helps them.
Dan: She’s acquired extra:
Lauren Taylor: It may be, orienting your self to the room. Like, what are 5 issues I can see or can I discover three blue issues? After which what’s one factor I can hear. What’s the one factor I can really feel, these orienting issues that preserve you very a lot within the current second and in addition let you recognize, like, this can be extremely upsetting, however proper now I’m really okay. Proper now on this second, I’m really okay. You recognize, I’m possibly scared about shedding my medical insurance. I could also be scared about the place the cash’s going to return from. However in the event you can say to your self, like, Oh proper now, I’m sitting in a room in my residence and, um, you recognize, My family members are round me or my pets are round me, or I’ve a plan for dinner or I’m going to name a pal proper now I’m okay. So there’s plenty of methods to get current. and I feel that getting current is what might help this lady and everyone else.
Dan: What I hear you speaking about … Like while you say: “get into the current,” it’s like, I’m shifting my consideration. I’m shifting my consideration from this sense that I’m having that wishes to take up my total discipline of consideration. And I’m sort of like reminding myself that there are different issues to offer my consideration to. And now that I do know that I may give my consideration to my technique
I feel one factor that actually strikes me about what you’re saying is … it’s sort of reframing the query. I begin to get offended to some extent the place possibly it’s unproductive and I feel the best way that’s framed, is how do I not have the sensation? That’s how I’m studying the questions. The issue is I get offended. And what I’m listening to you say is like, not an issue.
Lauren Taylor: Not an issue
Dan: You’re getting offended.
Lauren Taylor: There are actually good causes to be offended
Dan: YES! For certain. So what you need isn’t to keep away from getting offended– it’s simply to keep away from getting uncontrolled. You most likely ARE going to get mad. So that you need to plan for it.
And to overview, Lauren’s high two ideas are:
One: Have a plan for what you’re gonna do with that anger AFTER the decision. How are you going to take care of it?
And two: Have a few favourite hacks for shortly re-focusing your consideration. To your breath, another sensation, no matter clicks for you.
You’re most likely gonna need to WRITE down these tips, follow them, earlier than you get on the telephone.
I actually love this. And speaking to Lauren, I spotted: Being on the telephone with the insurance coverage firm– or the medical-billing workplace or whoever else within the medical-industrial complicated you’re speaking with– we’ve acquired benefits we don’t have in another self-defense conditions:
One: You’re not in the identical bodily area with that different individual. They will’t see you scrunch up your face, or gently rub your coronary heart, or pet the cat, or silently rely to 10 whereas they’re speaking.
Which is totally different from being face-to-face with anyone who might damage you– bodily or emotionally.
And two: You don’t have an ongoing relationship with this explicit individual. It’s not like telling your mother that you simply want her to ask your companion to household gatherings. Or telling your colleague to cease making racist jokes. These are relationships which are going to maintain affecting you. And possibly preserve affecting different relationships.
Right here, you’re like, WHATEVER, nameless insurance-company individual. Which doesn’t imply you may act like a jerk to them– that’s not going that can assist you. However you do have an escape hatch. Should you actually can’t take it any extra with out shedding your cool… you may grasp up and name again later, while you’re prepared, and inform the subsequent individual, GEE, I acquired disconnected earlier than.
I inform Lauren this, and she or he’s like
Lauren Taylor: Yeah, I used to be positively considering, you recognize, you may, if in case you have, in the event you’re too crammed up with feeling to be doing one thing that feels helpful, you may completely say, you recognize, I can discuss this anymore. I’ll name, name again one other time.
Dan: Oh yeah. Proper. You don’t have to love faux, dropping the decision. You possibly can simply say like, wow. I feel I have to, I would like a while to digest this. , I’d prefer to name
Lauren Taylor: I’ll name again later.
Dan: YES. I’ll name again later. That’s the place we left issues with Lauren Taylor within the fall of 2020, and it’s all nonetheless super-relevant — as I can attest proper now, with my back-and-forth calls to the hospital and the insurance coverage firm.
One replace: Since we talked, Lauren Taylor has printed a ebook!
Get Empowered: A Sensible Information to Thrive, Heal, and Embrace Your Confidence in a Sexist World was printed in October 2023, and — though the title means that the ebook targets people with one X chromosome greater than I occur to have — I’m wanting ahead to studying it.
We condensed a few of Lauren’s recommendation right into a First Support Package e-newsletter final 12 months — together with associated ideas from different superstars. We’ll put a hyperlink within the present notes — it’s best to be capable to discover it wherever you’re listening, and you may join any of our newsletters at arm and a leg present dot com, slash, e-newsletter.
We might be again in three weeks.
Until then, care for your self.
This episode of An Arm and a Leg was produced by me, Dan Weissmann, edited in 2020 by Marian Wang, and for this re-release by Ellen Weiss.
Emily Pisacreta is our senior producer. Adam Raymonda is our audio wizard.
Gabrielle Healy is our managing editor for viewers — she edits the First Support Package e-newsletter.
Sarah Ballema is our operations supervisor. Bea Bosco is our consulting director of operations.
An Arm and a Leg is produced in partnership with KFF Well being Information.
That’s a nationwide newsroom producing in-depth journalism about well being care in America, and a core program at KFF — an impartial supply of well being coverage analysis, polling, and journalism.
You possibly can study extra about KFF Well being Information at arm and a leg present dot com, slash KFF.
Zach Dyer is senior audio producer at KFF Well being Information. He’s editorial liaison to this present.
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