An Arm and a Leg, is a podcast, entering its third season this month, about something on people’s minds—the rising cost of health care. The podcast is helmed by host and executive producer, Dan Weissman, who developed the idea while he was an on air radio reporter for WBEZ in Chicago.
I spoke with Dan about the evolution and meaning of the podcast (with an average of 50K downloads per episode and growing).
EE: Dan, where do you get your stories?
DW: It doesn’t take much, because the stories are everywhere. I like to cover the everyday story—I’m doing this test or this procedure, does my insurance cover it? What are behind us taking those random $500 blood tests? The spiraling cost of medical care shapes people’s lives: We’re afraid to leave jobs because of insurance, we’re worried about the risk that a trip to the doctor could end with us in bankruptcy. As a reporter, I find and tell the revealing, surprising stories in an entertaining and empowering format.”
EE: Are you an activist?
DW: In the broadest sense, yes. The show doesn’t advocate a policy position though because that polarizes people. What we do talk about is looking at your data in a world of Goliath Insurance companies and other players. The message is we are all in together so how we can best advocate for ourselves and each other?”
EE: What has the response been?
DW: It’s been very gratifying. We encourage people from different perspectives and walks of life to chime in share stories and tips and ask questions, and they have. One woman moved cross country for a job with health insurance and still found medical expenses a huge encroachment. Another, a millennial with a good job, is worried about the healthcare costs for his aging parents. And a CFO of a manufacturing company in the Midwest, told us his biggest corporate expense is healthcare.
EE: How is the show funded?
DW: Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news organization covering health care in America (not connected with Kaiser Insurance Company) is a partner providing some financial and editorial support. Elizabeth Rosenthal, is the editor in chiefof Kaiser Health News, and author of An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business, and How You Can Take It Back.”
EE: What do you still want to cover?
DW: I’d like to explore the limits of self-advocacy and talk with experts or patient advocates who know how to work or hack the system, and I want to give tips and tricks on citizens’ financial self-defense.
Dan’s Tips For Entrepreneurs Over 50
· Trust Your Intuition: You can’t burn the midnight oil like someone younger, so you have to use ,your life experience. The main advantage that you have—you know yourself a little better, so your gut checks are easier to access.
· Ask Friends for Help: I’ve been so grateful to my friends and colleagues who have listened to the show, given thoughtful feedback and aren’t afraid to be critical if something doesn’t make sense.
· Have Younger Mentors and Colleagues. My team and many of the advisors on the show came up in a different journalism world than I did. I learn so much from them, and we can all learn from each other.
· You Are Never Too Old To Start Something New I loved being a reporter, but after leaving a job that wasn’t a fit, I did not expect to become a founder at 50. Watching the whole business model journalism fall apart and re-form over the last 20 years has given me a resilience and willingness to take risks that I would not have expected when I was 23 and saw journalism as a day job. And besides, studies show that founders past 45 do well.
EE: Have the insurance agencies responded?
DW: I hear from insurance brokers, hospital administrators and doctors all the time. They tell me, “I love what you are doing, keep going.”
And Dan has done just that. See the trailer for season 3 here. The podast is available on iTunes and Spotify.