‘An arm and a leg’: No money, no job, no healthcare? Not always.

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If you don’t have money and you don’t have a job, what are your best options for health care?

It’s 2023 open enrollment season, and plenty of Americans are shopping for health insurance plans. And some are weighing the risks of skipping health insurance altogether.

One listener wrote “an arm and a leg” about her son, a student with no income whose age dropped out of the family’s health insurance. She asked: If her son buys a plan, will he be left out of the possibility of receiving charity care (financial assistance) at his local hospital?

To answer these questions, podcast host Dan Weissman relied on the expert help of Karen Politz, a senior fellow at KFF, and Jared Walker, founder of Dollar For and an expert on charity care.

If you want to go deeper:

  • “An Arm and a Leg” did a three-part series on choosing health insurance in its First Aid Kit newsletter. Start here.
  • An episode from last year explored other dos and don’ts for choosing health insurance.
  • In a 2018 episode, Weissman spoke to another listener — a “financial therapist” — who had his own deep questions about health insurance.

“An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of KHN and Public Road Productions.

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