Home Health Insurance Assault of the Medicare Machines

Assault of the Medicare Machines

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Assault of the Medicare Machines

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Masking 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 considered one of Hollywood’s favourite tropes: machines taking on. And the machines belong to the non-public medical 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 choices 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 below scrutiny.

Dan Weissmann


@danweissmann

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 P.c Invisible, and Reveal, from the Heart for Investigative Reporting.

Credit

Emily Pisacreta
Producer

Adam Raymonda
Audio Wizard

Ellen Weiss
Editor

Click on to open the Transcript

Transcript: Son of Medicare: Assault of the Machines

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 device however examine the corresponding audio earlier than quoting the podcast.

Dan: Hey there–

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

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

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

It’s additionally sort of a twofer sequel– like these films 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 acquired Medicare Benefit: That is the model of Medicare that’s run by non-public insurance coverage firms. 

It’s acquired a shiny and interesting aspect, in comparison with the normal Medicare program run by the federal authorities, as a result of: It could price rather a lot much less, month to month — saving folks cash on premiums. And it usually comes with further advantages, like dental protection, which conventional Medicare doesn’t provide. [I know.]

However Medicare Benefit can have a darkish aspect, which is mainly: Effectively, you find yourself coping with non-public 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? — nicely, final time we talked about them, in 2023, we had an professional 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 acquired a complete different enterprise– below 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 sort. 

That features medical practices — they make use of extra docs than anybody else, by an enormous margin. It contains surgical procedure facilities, and home-health firms, and each sort of intermediary firm you possibly can think about that works behind the scenes — and have their fingers in an enormous proportion of physician payments and pharmacy visits. 

A couple of years in the past, United purchased an organization known as NaviHealth, which offers 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 residence, like in the event you’re discharged from a hospital after surgical procedure, however you’re not able to go residence but.

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

And in accordance with their experiences, it entails folks getting kicked out of these nursing houses who aren’t able to go residence. 

Individuals getting despatched residence 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 residence.”

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

That is the place machines do enter the image.

NaviHealth’s distinctive providing has at all times 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 advised reporters, that modified: The brand new homeowners mainly advised their workers, If the algorithm says somebody can go residence after x days, that’s once we’re reducing them off.

 Like just about any horror film, this story’s acquired folks operating round making an attempt to inform everybody: HEY, WATCH OUT! THERE’S SOMETHING BIG AND DANGEROUS HAPPENING HERE.

And on this case, they’ve really 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 way in which: Sure, I mentioned 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 will 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 elements of American life, and convey you one thing entertaining, empowering, and helpful.

So. I mentioned that, like each horror film, this one has people who find themselves seeing what’s occurring and try to warn all people?

Like these films, we’re gonna comply with a type 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 an incredible medical information publication. Bob covers the enterprise of drugs there. Bob began engaged on this story in November 2022, after speaking to a supply who runs nursing houses. Bob’s supply was complaining about Medicare Benefit. 

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

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

Bob Herman: And he was hooked.

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

Bob Herman: It took so many households without warning to be like, what do you imply we’re going residence? The, you understand, my husband, my spouse, my grandma, my grandpa, they’ll’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 residence for rehab after mind surgical procedure for most cancers. He was weak. He couldn’t stroll. And he had one thing known 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 residence — the very first thing he acquired 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 advised the nursing residence employees she’d heard from NaviHealth, they groaned. And advised her what to anticipate. 

Gloria Bent: I used to be advised 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 might be two days after I acquired that discover.

Dan: Yeah, they mentioned she’d get two days discover. Gloria says the nursing residence employees advised her she’d have 24 hours to attraction every of these, however even when she gained, the denials would maintain coming. Actually, they mentioned,

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

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

Gloria appealed. She advised 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 every day residing. 

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

Gary got here residence 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 acquired 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 quite a lot of the functioning he’d picked up on the nursing residence. 

He died at residence just a few months later. When Gloria testified within the Senate, all of it was nonetheless recent. She advised 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 occurring to households and sufferers. It’s merciless. Our household continues to wrestle with the query that I hear you asking as we speak. Why are people who find themselves taking a look at sufferers solely on paper or by the lens of an algorithm

making choices that deny the providers judged essential 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’ll be able to attraction, however as Gloria testified, the denials velocity up. And you must 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 possibilities in courtroom– which, along with being a serious enterprise, additionally means racking up nursing residence 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 surrender. You probably have a job, you understand, even in the event you don’t, and also you’re, and also you’re additionally making an attempt 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 advised her story. 

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

CMS finalized a rule that advised insurers: You’ll be able to’t deny care to folks simply from utilizing an algorithm. 

And one thing else occurred too: Bob and Casey began immediately getting rather a lot MORE data. 

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

Dan: And never simply former workers. Present workers. And what they realized was: There was completely a technique 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 acquired 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 residence, though we all know that they’ll barely stroll 20 ft.

Dan: What Bob and Casey realized 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 protecting healthcare in America. Their reporters do superb work, and I’m honored to work with them. We’ll have slightly extra about KFF Well being Information on the finish of this episode.

So, NaviHealth — the corporate with the algorithm — acquired began in 2015.. And the concept behind it was to make use of knowledge to get folks residence sooner from nursing houses in the event that they didn’t really must be there. 

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

Bob Herman: There’s some validity to the concept that there’s, there’s wasteful care in Medicare, like, you understand, there’s been circumstances previously proving that folks keep in a nursing residence for manner longer than is important. And clearly there’s monetary incentives for nursing houses to maintain folks so long as potential. 

Dan: Conventional Medicare does have limits on nursing residence care — however in the event you want “post-acute care” — assist getting again in your ft 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 reduce waste, by asking these sorts of questions. NaviHealth and its algorithm had been designed to assist Medicare Benefit plans ask these questions in a sensible manner. 

Bob Herman: There have been… quite a lot of believers inside NaviHealth that had been like, okay, I believe we’re doing the precise factor. We’re making an attempt to ensure folks get residence sooner as a result of who doesn’t need to be at residence.  

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

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

Which made sense, as a result of the algorithm doesn’t know all the things 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’re just about going.

Bob Herman: United has mentioned, no, that’s not the case, however clearly these paperwork and different communications that we’ve gotten sort 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 needed folks shipped out on the algorithm’s timetable. 

Bob Herman: Paperwork got here in exhibiting that like this was a reasonably specific technique. You recognize, UnitedHealth was telling its workers. Hear, we have now this algorithm. We predict it’s actually good. So when it tells you what number of, what number of days somebody needs to be in a nursing residence, follow it.

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

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

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

So, say you had 10 sufferers, and the algorithm mentioned they every ought to get 10 days. That’s 100 days. Your job was to ensure that the entire precise days for these sufferers didn’t go previous 103 days.

Then, in 2023, the expectations acquired 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, nearly nothing. Like what, what, your fingers are tied. If you happen to’re that worker, what are you going to do? Are you going to get fired? Are you going to do what you’re advised?

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

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

Dan: Amber Lynch was a case supervisor. She advised Bob and Casey about onepatient who couldn’t climb the steps in his residence after knee surgical procedure. However the algorithm mentioned he was prepared. Amber’s supervisor mentioned, “Have you ever requested the nursing residence employees in the event that they’ve tried to show him butt bumping?” Amber grit her tooth 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 previous. He’s not going to try this. He’s not secure to climb the steps but. He’s not doing it. We’re not going to have it butt bump the steps.

Dan: Amber advised Bob and Casey that when she acquired fired, it was partly for failing to hit the one p.c goal and partly for being late with paperwork– which she advised 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 residence workplace, struggling to maintain up. 

That week, they had been speculated 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 all the things accurately and name everybody accurately the way in which I used to be speculated to?” the case supervisor requested. “No. It’s unattainable. Nobody might be that quick and that efficient and seize the entire data that’s wanted.”

Bob and Casey watched this case supervisor fill out a digital kind, feeding the algorithm the knowledge it requested for on a person in his 80s with coronary heart failure, kidney illness, diabetes and bother 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 quite a lot 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 knowledge is the algorithm working with? What’s it evaluating the information on any given affected person TO? Bob Herman says that’s a giant query.

Bob Herman: It’s one thing that for positive, like Casey and I, it’s been bothering us. Like, what, how is that this complete 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 mentioned it’s based mostly on thousands and thousands of affected person data over time. The sources of that, it’s, it’s slightly unclear, the place all that’s coming from. 

Dan: Bob and Casey talked with an professional named Ziad Obermeyer, a professor on the College of California Berkeley Faculty of Public Well being, who will not be anti-algorithm. He really builds algorithmic instruments for choice making in public well being. 

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

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

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

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

Irrespective of how a lot knowledge it’s acquired, it’s predicting from averages.

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

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

Utilizing it to make choices can enable United to spice up earnings coming and going.

Bob Herman: United well being and the opposite insurance coverage firms that use Navi well being. Are utilizing this expertise to roughly kick folks out of nursing houses 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 will as an alternative of getting to pay it to a nursing residence.

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 — residence well being providers. The sort of providers you’re prone to want once you go away a nursing residence.

In 2022, Optum purchased one high residence well being firm in what one commerce publication known 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 residence 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 residence as a result of our algorithm mentioned so. Now we’re going to ship you to a house well being company or we’re going to ship some residence well being aides into your house. And by the way in which, we personal them. 

Dan: Oh, proper, as a result of: If you happen to’re in a Medicare Benefit plan, your insurer can let you know which suppliers are lined. 

Bob Herman: So the true 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 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 mentioned its insurance coverage arm doesn’t favor its in-house companies.

However it looks as if an affordable 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 must be in a Medicare Benefit plan run by United to get kicked out of a nursing residence 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 all people in Medicare Benefit.

Bob Herman: Odds are, in the event you’re in a Medicare Benefit plan, there’s a, there’s a extremely good shot that your protection insurance policies, in the event you get actually sick and wish nursing residence care, for instance, or any sort of publish acute care, an algorithm could possibly be at play in some unspecified time in the future.

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 health club membership. It’s acquired 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 standpoint, if, in the event you’re a low revenue 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 without end. 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 of get out of it.

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

Dan: So, yeah. Sort of a horror story. However: In contrast to some horror films, 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 yr, when Bob and Casey revealed their story with paperwork and tales from inside NaviHealth, a class-action lawsuit acquired filed.

Since then, CMS has mentioned it would step up audits below its new guidelines. 

Bob Herman: There was a memo that CMS despatched out to Medicare benefit plans that mentioned, Hey, hear, 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’d like 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 choices. They’ve acquired to show they work earlier than they put them in place.

Dan: So folks — folks with not less than 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, mainly, the story isn’t over. 

This isn’t a type of horror films the place the monster’s been safely defeated on the finish, and all people simply begins cleansing up the mess. And it’s not one the place the monster is simply on the unfastened, unleashing the apocalypse. 

As a result of it’s not a film. There’s no ending. There’s simply all of us making an attempt to determine what’s occurring, and what we will possibly do about it.

One very last thing: I acquired quite a lot of emails after our final episode, the place we laid out quite a lot of details about Medicare Benefit and conventional Medicare. Most of it was alongside the strains of, Thanks! That was actually useful! Which made me really feel actually good.

And we acquired a pair notes about issues we might have finished higher. Particularly this: We mentioned Conventional Medicare leaves you on the hook for 20 p.c of all the things, with out an out of pocket restrict. 

Which is true — however just for Medicare Half B: Physician visits, outpatient surgical procedures and exams. Which may add up, for positive.

Medicare Half A — in the event you’re really hospitalized — covers most providers at 100%, 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, superb notes in my inbox lately, and I need to say: Please maintain them coming. 

If you happen to go to arm and a leg present dot com, slash, contact, no matter you sort there goes straight to my inbox. You’ll be able to 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 just a few 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. Further music on this episode from Epidemic Sound.

Gabrielle Healy is our managing editor for viewers. She edits the primary help package 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 unbiased 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 because of the Institute for Nonprofit Information for serving as our fiscal sponsor, permitting us to just accept tax exempt donations. You’ll be able to be taught extra about INN at INN. org. 

Lastly, because of all people who helps this present financially– you possibly can 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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