Skip to content

Marshall Allen

Marshall Allen is an investigative journalist that has spent more than fifteen years exposing the ways that the health care industry preys on vulnerable Americans. Marshall currently writes for ProPublica and was part of the team to be a Pulitzer finalist for their work in covering COVID-19. In this episode, Marshall discusses how his time investigating the American healthcare system has led to writing his new book, titled “Never Pay the First Bill: and Other Ways to Fight the Health Care System and Win.”

Marshall’s career has seen him honoured with multiple journalism awards, such as the Harvard Kennedy School’s 2011 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and coming in as a finalist for the Pulitzer for his work at the Las Vegas Sun, where he worked before writing at ProPublica in 2011.

In this episode, you’ll hear about real-life victories as employers and employees fight the healthcare industry. From dealing with price gouging, errors in billing, fraud and unnecessary treatments, Marshall has seen it all. Tune in to hear how employers and employees can fight back and protect themselves from being taken advantage of by the healthcare delivery and payment system.

Here’s a glance at what you’ll hear from Marshall in this episode:

  • Why Americans pay so much for healthcare whilst getting so little in return
  • How Marshall’s career in investigative journalism led to him writing ‘Never Pay the First Bill’
  • Why the business side of healthcare was designed to exploit both clinicians and patients
  • How hospitals and insurance companies look after each other rather than the employee/employer.
  • The inefficiencies and errors presented in the majority of medical bills and how to fight back


  • 0:20 – Introduction to Marshall Allen
  • 2:20 – Why did Marshall write: ‘Never Pay the First Bill: And Other Ways to Fight the Health Care System and Win’
  • 7:08 – “The business side of healthcare was designed to exploit both clinicians and patients” – How the healthcare system takes advantage of Americans
  • 9:00 – The price variation patients deal with when going to hospital
  • 11:35 – Why aren’t hospitals showing transparent pricing and why aren’t insurance companies loyal to the employer/employee?
  • 15:15 – Employers are passing costs onto their employees
  • 16:30 – Increasing health literacy for employees and employers
  • 17:20 – How common are errors in medical bills?
  • 19:20 – The medical debt collecting industry
  • 21:30 – How to deal with medical debt
  • 22:18 – Why would you sue a medical provider for an unfair bill
  • 24:20 – The open price contract rule: Don’t pay more than Medicare would
  • 26:04 – How a hospital would react to a lawsuit in Small Claims Court
  • 28:00 – Using a referenced based pricing plan and why hospitals don’t like it
  • 30:20 – Share your medical finance victories with Marshall
  • 31:10 – Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court
  • 31:58 – Being aware of medical finance risks and how to avoid them
  • 33:45 – Avoiding unnecessary care
  • 34:10 – Avoiding immediate care
  • 35:20 – Mammograms: An unnecessary care example?
  • 38:05 – Stories of fraud in medical care and finance
  • 40:40 – The David Williams case
  • 44:00 – Who investigates fraud?
  • 46:30 – Standing up to a bully: How to push back
  • 49:45 – How to connect with Marshall Allen


Podcast Links:

Apple Podcasts:

About the Host, Michael Menerey

Michael Menerey is a Senior Vice President and Benefits Consultant with one of the largest Employee Benefits Brokerage & Consulting firms in the country. He is a partner in the Employee Benefits Practice and works in the Los Angeles office.

Leave a Comment