‘An Arm And A Leg’: A Medical Bill Ninja Shares Her Secrets

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Meredith Balogh has spent years learning to navigate the financial side of the health care system.

Balogh, who has Type 1 diabetes, has saved herself and her family many thousands of dollars. She has made a habit — even a hobby — of helping others: people with diabetes, co-workers and strangers on the internet.

“There’s only three things that you’re fighting,” she said. “Problems with competence, problems with greed and problems with maliciousness. And, luckily, most things are incompetence.”

Balogh said she has never had a lot of money, and for years she didn’t have health insurance. But she has become a master at climbing what she calls the “billing info ladder.”

“I do this for fun!” she said, laughing.

She checks in on forums like Reddit’s r/HospitalBills in search of people to help.

Online, Balogh sagely shares her ninja ways for negotiating with a doctor’s office or finding the right thing to say when you call a hospital billing department. Words like “charity care” and “financial aid” are key.

“You are negotiating for your life, be polite ALWAYS, maybe cry a little, but keep asking,” she told one person on Reddit.

Season 3’s Episode 2 of “An Arm and a Leg” begins with Balogh’s story but ends on a personal note: It turns out saving nearly $800 on your medical bill is kinda romantic.

Season 3 is a co-production of Kaiser Health News and Public Road Productions.

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