Self-Protection 101: Protecting Your Cool Whereas You Battle


Navigating the U.S. well being care system can really feel like a “battle royale.” From difficult unfair medical payments to wrestling with insurance coverage corporations over pre-authorizations, sufferers should be prepared to stay up for themselves. 

So, how will you keep cool and assured in these fights? On this rebroadcast of “An Arm and a Leg” from 2020, host Dan Weissmann hits up self-defense coach Lauren Taylor about methods for standing up for your self and hears how she utilized her method in her personal battle for well being care protection.

Dan Weissmann


Host and producer of “An Arm and a Leg.” Beforehand, Dan was a workers reporter for Market and Chicago’s WBEZ. His work additionally seems on All Issues Thought-about, Market, the BBC, 99 P.c Invisible, and Reveal, from the Middle for Investigative Reporting.


Emily Pisacreta

Adam Raymonda
Audio Wizard

Ellen Weiss

Marian Wang

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Transcript: Self-Protection 101: Protecting Your Cool Whereas You Battle

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

Dan: Hey there – Earlier than we begin, I simply need to say THANK YOU for supporting our work right here. Because of you, we beat all of our objectives for the tip of 2023. 

Meaning we collected each greenback of matching funds that have been on provide — and since so many people grew to become donors for the primary time, we earned a bonus from the Institute for Nonprofit Information. 

So we’re beginning this yr in good condition, which is nice, as a result of we’ve acquired some large tasks deliberate. 

Thanks a lot.

Now, in much less pleasant information, I’m preventing slightly bit with my insurance coverage firm proper now. Or … is it the hospital billing workplace I’m preventing with? Every one retains sending me again to the opposite. It’s … a superb time.

There’s a First Support Package e-newsletter in all this, however for now I’m struggling to search out the hours for all of the telephone calls, and to maintain my composure. 

On that final notice– protecting my composure —  this looks as if a superb time to carry again what could be the most helpful episode we’ve ever accomplished, from late 2020.

You prepared? Right here we go.

I acquired a voicemail from a listener named Amanda Jaffe. She’s been listening to our episodes about people who battle again in opposition to insurance coverage corporations and outrageous payments. And he or she says she’s sort of a bulldog herself on these items. BUT she says there’s a snag. Possibly you’ll be able to relate — I positively can.

Amanda Jaffe: After I name the insurance coverage corporations, I begin to get indignant to some extent the place possibly it’s unproductive. So I want some steering on find out how to stay cool when calling insurance coverage corporations. Thanks. I’d really want the assistance.

Dan: YES. I’ve been excited about this for months and months. We’ve been listening to from individuals who battle and battle, and generally win, and a few issues maintain getting clearer:  

ONE: You’re in all probability gonna spend a LOT of time on the telephone, quite a lot of it on maintain, and quite a lot of it with individuals who, for one cause or one other, usually are not gonna appear that useful. 

And TWO, I maintain listening to over and over:  You’ve gotta maintain your cool. OK, certain.

However I maintain questioning many times: OK, HOW?

And at present, I believe I’ve acquired precisely the particular person I’ve been in search of.

Lauren Taylor: My identify is Lauren Taylor. I run Defend Your self in Washington, DC, and we train individuals expertise for stopping harassment, abuse, and assault.

Dan: So for like a YEAR I’ve been describing this present as being targeted on self-defense in opposition to the price of well being care. And Lauren is an precise self-defense instructor. Has been one for thirty-five years.

And it seems self-defense — the best way Lauren and her colleagues train it —  is NOT simply the hitting and the kicking. It’s defending your self in opposition to every kind of … encroachment. Road harassment. Creepy co-workers. Simply standing up for your self. You would possibly’ve observed, Lauren stated her group teaches individuals expertise for stopping harassment, abuse, and assault. 

And abuse …  I’m unsure that’s too robust a phrase for the way the health-care industrial advanced treats individuals. 

So, Lauren herself is simply wrapping up an EPIC battle together with her medical health insurance.  And he or she has been utilizing self-defense expertise all alongside the best way. I’m not going into all the main points. 

Lauren Taylor: There’s been so many issues. I actually can’t bear in mind all of them. 

Dan: However we talked by means of them– as a result of she’s acquired ’em written down.

Lauren Taylor: That is additionally a self-defense factor, which is doc, proper?

Similar to you’d with a stalker or a office harasser or, uh, even uh, An abusive companion, is doc every little thing as a result of, you would possibly want it 

Dan: You train this within the class.

Lauren Taylor: Oh yeah.

Dan: I stroll in, suppose I’m gonna learn to want anyone within the nuts. And also you’re like, “get a pocket book.” I’m like, wow.

Lauren Taylor: Individuals, individuals do stroll in considering they’re going to learn to, , knee somebody within the groin, and we do train that. however I can’t inform you how usually in evaluations individuals  inform us that they have been fully blown away by all the opposite stuff that they be taught, which is actually about empowerment.

Dan: Sure. Sure, please. Let’s have a few of that. 

That is An Arm and a Leg — a present about the price of well being care. I’m Dan Weissmann. I’m a reporter, and I like a problem. So my job right here is to take one of the enraging, terrifying, miserable points in American life– and YES, there’s a bunch of these, however I’m sticking with this one– and produce a present that’s entertaining, empowering, and helpful.

And right here we’re.    

Right here’s Lauren’s deal: It begins the early Eighties, 

Lauren Taylor: I had saved up cash and I used to be gonna take a while and journey on my own. And a pal of mine informed me a few self-defense class that she had taken. And I believed, “Oh, that’s a very good thought. I ought to in all probability do this if I’m going to journey on my own.”   

Dan: She says it modified her life. Like, as an adolescent, she’d handled a LOT of road harassment. She figured, man, that’s simply the way it goes.

Lauren Taylor: And I had all the time thought that if anyone tried to rape me, there could be nothing I may do as a result of by definition they might be greater and stronger than me. 

And the true life-changing piece of the self-defense class was realizing that that was mistaken. It was realizing that I had energy and that I may damage anyone who was attempting to harm me. 

Dan: How did that really feel?   

Lauren Taylor: It’s, it’s completely life altering. I imply, even now,  like, simply inform it to you. I nonetheless really feel like a rush of power by means of my physique saying it.

Dan: It’s thrilling. It’s like, holy shit! I’m not helpless

Lauren Taylor: Yeah. I can shield myself. Yeah. And I’ve energy and, and . An enormous piece of it is also I’ve permission to do that and I should be protected.I deserve to have the ability to defend myself. 

And all of these usually are not messages that, , most of us get rising up nonetheless. And definitely not once I was rising up. So, it’s sort of like, caught the fever after which wished to unfold the gospel of self-defense. 

Dan: So, she’s been educating self-defense since 1985.

I requested her: So, how did it change your life– past the truth that you began educating it? Like, what did you do otherwise?

She says for starters, she did take that journey, and there was an evening or two that didn’t go in response to plan: Her place to crash fell by means of, she was out late, misplaced, slightly scared. And he or she took out a pen, so in case she wanted to harm anyone, she’d have a pen to harm them with. She did NOT have to make use of it, however having a plan helped her maintain cool.

However that wasn’t the massive stuff. The large stuff was standing up for herself in different methods. Like when her boss in a full-time volunteer gig began sexually harassing her.  

Lauren Taylor: Whereas earlier than I might have preferred, , suffered and wrung my arms and journaled about it and referred to as 12 pals and, thought possibly there was one thing mistaken with me  and , all of these issues I didn’t do, I used to be similar to, Actually no, don’t do that.

Dan: After which what occurred?

Lauren Taylor: Ge just about lower it out. 

Dan: YEAH. After which there was her mother. Who did NOT deal properly with Lauren being homosexual. It was painful. After which there was the ultimate straw:  

Lauren Taylor: We had a big household reunion and She didn’t invite my companion and he or she invited my siblings companions.

Jesus, ouch. They’d had quite a lot of conversations. Now Lauren set a tough boundary. She put it in writing to her mother: 

Lauren Taylor: There are some basic items I want from you, or I’m not going to have the ability to keep involved with you. Proper. So, if there’s a household occasion, My companion will get invited , that’s self-defense 

Dan: That first self-defense class Lauren took had not lined Dealing With Troublesome Household Members, however Lauren says she’d gotten the message:

Lauren Taylor: It was okay. to require sure sorts of respect from individuals.  it was okay to be who I used to be, that wasn’t my fault that folks handled me as lower than all of that sort of stuff.

Dan: And by the best way, Lauren says the courses she leads now,  they DO cowl all that sort of stuff.

In different phrases, self-defense covers a LOT of territory. The large thought: If you happen to’re in a troublesome spot, you need some choices. 

Lauren says she provides college students a five-part framework– 5 sorts of choices. 

They’re:  Run, yell, hit, inform, and go alongside. 

And so they’re not all literal. Like, RUN is …

Lauren Taylor: Go away stroll away. Don’t present up for the appointment, break up with the particular person, something that makes you not there. 

Dan: And he or she says by YELL, she means: Use your voice.

Lauren Taylor: Assertiveness or deescalation or negotiation, or, , that’s not okay with me or don’t come any nearer or, , I gained’t come to household occasions when you don’t invite my companion. Proper.

Dan: “Yell” covers quite a lot of territory there.

Lauren Taylor: Every part along with your phrases just about. 

Dan: Every part with phrases you employ with the opposite particular person. As a result of there’s additionally TELL. Which she says imply — additionally actually broadly — get assist.

Lauren Taylor: It may be getting assist in the second. uh, this particular person is bothering me. Can I stand with you? After which there’s, longer-term getting assist going to HR, going to a hotline, , speaking to a lawyer, 

Dan: Posting to social media.

Lauren Taylor: Posting it. Proper. precisely. 

Dan: Hit is — properly, it’s really hitting. They observe that too.

After which there’s the final one: Go alongside. 

Lauren Taylor: We would like individuals to know that that’s an possibility, proper? We’re not saying. All the time resist. We’re saying resistance is profitable far more than you’ve been informed and far more than you consider. 

However there are occasions when, going alongside, is the neatest and most secure factor so that you can do. And for instance, if somebody’s attempting to take your property, proper, if it’s a mugging, And also you need to get out of there, unhurt, the neatest and most secure factor to do is to offer them your property. 

Dan: Yeah. I believe you’ll be able to in all probability see the broad outlines of how this might apply to wrangling along with your insurance coverage firm or preventing unfair medical payments. I imply, speak about a mugging.  

It positively jogs my memory of one thing I stated once we began this self-defense collection:  We’re not gonna win ’em all. We simply don’t should lose all of them both. 

So, that’s Lauren’s framework.

Subsequent: Let’s be taught some SPECIFIC strategies and the way we are able to begin making use of them. That’s proper after this.

This episode of An Arm and a Leg is produced in partnership with KFF Well being Information. That’s a non-profit newsroom protecting well being care in America. Their work is terrific, wins every kind of awards yearly. I’m so proud to work with them.

OK. really USE self-defense strategies with medical payments and insurance coverage BS.

We’ll begin with an instance from Lauren’s epic health-insurance battle this yr. We’re not gonna get into the story– it’s too lengthy, too bizarre, and it’s not even actually over. BUT we’ll zoom in on a second when Lauren’s on the telephone and the opposite particular person opens by throwing up a roadblock, saying, YOU in all probability did one thing mistaken.   

I’m like, Argh, I’m already indignant. What do you do now? And Lauren’s like, “I stayed on my agenda.” 

STAYING ON YOUR AGENDA. It is a complete self-defense factor. Lauren walks me by means of it: 

Lauren Taylor: Right here’s the method. Okay. One thing’s occurring. You realize, like anyone is harassing you on the road or no matter …

Dan: Otherwise you’re calling your insurance coverage, and the opposite particular person is being REALLY unhelpful.

She says you ask your self three questions, on this order: First, how am I feeling? It’s in all probability not nice. 

Lauren Taylor: I’m terrified. I’m indignant, I’m upset. I need to cry. I really feel humiliated. 

Dan: Good occasions. That’s the primary query: How am I feeling?   

Second: What do I want? Which is extra big-picture: Have to get a protected distance, want respect.  

Third, what do I WANT? That is extra particular– what would you like from the opposite particular person:  

Lauren Taylor: I would like you to take your arms off me. I would like you to take three steps again. I would like you to knock earlier than you are available in my workplace. I would like you to cease making racist jokes. no matter it’s, you flip it into what I would like you to condemn, and that’s your agenda. What you need to occur is your agenda.

So. Then after they do no matter people who find themselves misusing energy do, which is commonly. Guilt journey you or attempting to control you or blame you want, properly, why   have been you there? Why have been you sporting that? Why did you get drunk? Um, it’s only a joke. Um, why wouldn’t have stated it, when you hadn’t blah, blah, blah, or why you being such a bitch?

Um, , all of these issues are to get you into their net of dialog and off of your agenda and also you keep in your agenda. So if I say to you,  don’t ask me about my private life whereas we’re at work. And also you’re like, Oh Lauren, you’re so delicate. 

Dan: Yeah, I’m altering the topic. All of a sudden, we’re not speaking about what you need. We’re speaking about my notion of you. And you will have a reasonably robust impulse to handle that– Like, “Oh, geez, am I?” Or, “I AM NOT”  

Lauren Taylor: However as a substitute I’m simply going to say once more, “Pay attention, Dan, I requested you. I solely need to speak about work at work. And I actually don’t like answering private questions at work. So please cease asking me.” That’s staying in your agenda.

Dan: And so how did that occur in these telephone calls?

Lauren Taylor: I simply stored saying what I wanted or. I might maintain saying  so what’s the subsequent step? What can we do from right here? 

So as an example, Lauren performed out an extended, lengthy set of calls together with her medical health insurance firm AND the state workplace that administers the Obamacare change in Maryland, the place she lives. 

Every time they hit an deadlock, she requested, “What’s the subsequent step?” Finally, the subsequent step was: file an   enchantment by means of the state lawyer basic’s workplace. Lauren referred to as, and the primary particular person to choose up the telephone didn’t have a super-encouraging opening line. 

Lauren Taylor: She was like, properly, I’m certain you missed a deadline. And, um, as a substitute of claiming, I didn’t miss any deadlines as a result of then we’re into her dialog.

I stated, so please inform me extra about find out how to enchantment. Proper? As a result of  , she in all probability talks to 100 individuals a day and, , individuals make every kind of errors and , it’s an enormous headache to her, I’m certain. 

Dan: So Lauren didn’t take the bait. She stayed on her agenda… AND AFTER A WHILE, ONCE THE APPEAL WAS REALLY IN MOTION, Lauren observed the identical girl– who was now calling LAUREN with updates, generally greater than as soon as a day–  was singing a distinct tune. Nicely, positively some new phrases.

Lauren Taylor: She was utilizing we language.

Dan: That’s what we like. Yeah, 

Lauren Taylor: proper.  So I used to be like, Oh, that is going very properly. she was like, “we simply have to determine this factor out after which we’ll allow them to know.”

“WE” language. 

OK, that is nice. 

AND it’s like:  Wait, how do I really do that?  Like, within the second?  Like, right here’s Amanda’s query once more:

Amanda Jaffe:  I begin to get indignant to some extent the place possibly it’s unproductive. So I want some steering find out how to stay cool when calling insurance coverage corporations. 

Dan: YEAH. Me too! Me too. 

And Lauren reframed it. She was like: OK, getting indignant, that’s not an issue, not a mistake. It’s a sense that you simply’re having. And it’s a very affordable feeling to have.

And he or she says Amanda’s nailing it in saying:  these emotions in all probability aren’t gonna be super-helpful IN this dialog. 

So, you need a technique. An agenda. A plan. 

Lauren Taylor: If you happen to can floor your self in the truth that you’re technique is to stay calm and assured whereas nonetheless being very assertive and chronic.  that could be a technique, it doesn’t imply that it’s a must to really feel nice about what’s occurring. or that you simply aren’t upset the best way that persons are treating you.  it simply implies that as a technique, you might be selecting to make use of this persona, this frequent, assured, assertive, persistent persona to try to get what you want.

Dan: So, yeah: You’re gonna be mad. That’s gonna occur. You simply don’t wanna act out these emotions within the dialog. So right here’s the precise ADVICE half: You’re taking these emotions and… 

Lauren Taylor: Do them elsewhere. You, , go for a stroll and pound the pavement. You vent to a pal. Um, if in case you have a automobile, you roll up the home windows and drive on a freeway and scream. Um, you discover, , you discover a place that’s in all probability not alcohol or ice cream too.

Um, To course of these emotions since you don’t need them simply hanging out in you both. That’s not good for you both. 

Dan: Which is to say: It could be sensible to have a plan GOING INTO the dialog about the way you’re take care of these emotions afterwards. Possibly even make a plan with anyone else.  You realize… 

Lauren Taylor: Name a pal or a member of the family who’s in your own home and say, I’m going to get on the telephone with the medical health insurance firm, and we’re going to name you afterwards and vent. Proper. After which, , I’ve a spot for these emotions. It’s not that I’m squashing

Dan: Proper.

Lauren Taylor: There’s a time for that  too. 

Dan: I like that.  However in the meantime, right here I’m IN the dialog, and issues are getting furry, and I’m HAVING A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT IT. 

Not so calm, not so assured, NOT SO CALM. 

Lauren’s like: Proper. Bought you lined. You need to discover a method that helps you shortly get calm and grounded within the second. She says taking note of her respiration is her go-to, however 

Lauren Taylor: My means of doing it might not give you the results you want or her or anyone else. Individuals have to search out what works for them to remain calm and grounded. So only a few concepts. It may be, um, respiration. It may be feeling your ft on the ground. These are my high two, nevertheless it additionally will be, , some individuals saying a fast prayer helps them.

Dan: She’s acquired extra: 

Lauren Taylor: It may be, orienting your self to the room. Like, what are 5 issues I can see or can I discover three blue issues? After which what’s one factor I can hear. What’s the one factor I can really feel, these orienting issues that maintain you very a lot within the current second and in addition let , like, this can be extremely upsetting, however proper now I’m really okay. Proper now on this second, I’m really okay. You realize, I’m possibly scared about shedding my medical health insurance. I could also be scared about the place the cash’s going to return from.  However when you can say to your self, like, Oh proper now, I’m sitting in a room in my condominium and, um, , My family members are round me or my pets are round me, or I’ve a plan for dinner or I’m going to name a pal proper now I’m okay. So there’s plenty of methods to get current. and I believe that getting current is what can assist this girl and everyone else.

Dan: What I hear you speaking about … Like whenever you say: “get into the current,” it’s like, I’m shifting my consideration. I’m shifting my consideration from this sense that I’m having that desires to take up my complete subject of consideration. And I’m sort of like reminding myself that there are different issues to offer my consideration to. And now that I do know that I may give my consideration to my technique

I believe one factor that basically strikes me about what you’re saying  is … it’s sort of reframing   the query. I begin to get indignant to some extent the place possibly it’s unproductive and I believe the best way that’s framed, is how do I not have the sensation? That’s how I’m studying the questions. The issue is I get indignant. And what I’m listening to you say is like, not an issue.

Lauren Taylor: Not an issue

Dan: You’re getting indignant.

Lauren Taylor: There are actually good causes to be indignant

Dan: YES! For certain. So what you need isn’t to keep away from getting indignant– it’s simply to keep away from getting uncontrolled. You in all probability ARE going to get mad. So that you need to plan for it.

And to evaluation, Lauren’s high two ideas are:

One: Have a plan for what you’re gonna do with that anger AFTER the decision. How are you going to take care of it? 

And two: Have a few favourite hacks for shortly re-focusing your consideration. To your breath, another sensation, no matter clicks for you.  

You’re in all probability gonna need to WRITE down these methods, observe them, earlier than you get on the telephone. 

I actually love this. And speaking to Lauren, I noticed:  Being on the telephone with the insurance coverage firm– or the medical-billing workplace or whoever else within the medical-industrial advanced you’re speaking with– we’ve acquired benefits we don’t have in another self-defense conditions:  

One: You’re not in the identical bodily house with that different particular person. They will’t see you scrunch up your face, or gently rub your coronary heart, or pet the cat, or silently rely to 10 whereas they’re speaking.  

Which is totally different from being face-to-face with anyone who may damage you– bodily or emotionally.

And two: You don’t have an ongoing relationship with this explicit particular person. It’s not like telling your mother that you simply want her to ask your companion to household gatherings. Or telling your colleague to cease making racist jokes. These are relationships which might be going to maintain affecting you. And doubtless maintain affecting different relationships. 

Right here, you’re like, WHATEVER, nameless insurance-company particular person. Which doesn’t imply you’ll be able to act like a jerk to them– that’s not going that will help you. However you do have an escape hatch. If you happen to actually can’t take it any extra with out shedding your cool… you’ll be able to grasp up and name again later, whenever you’re prepared, and inform the subsequent particular person, GEE, I acquired disconnected earlier than. 

I inform Lauren this, and he or she’s like

Lauren Taylor: Yeah, I used to be positively considering, , you’ll be able to, if in case you have, when you’re too crammed up with feeling to be doing one thing that feels helpful, you’ll be able to completely say, , I can speak about this anymore. I’ll name, name again one other time.

Dan: Oh yeah. Proper. You don’t have to love faux, dropping the decision. You possibly can simply say like, wow. I believe I have to, I want a while to digest this. , I’d wish to name

Lauren Taylor: I’ll name again later.

Dan: YES. I’ll name again later. That’s the place we left issues with Lauren Taylor within the fall of 2020, and it’s all nonetheless super-relevant — as I can attest proper now, with my back-and-forth calls to the hospital and the insurance coverage firm.

One replace: Since we talked, Lauren Taylor has printed a ebook! 

Get Empowered: A Sensible Information to Thrive, Heal, and Embrace Your Confidence in a Sexist World was printed in October 2023, and — though the title means that the ebook targets people with one X chromosome greater than I occur to have — I’m trying ahead to studying it.  

We condensed a few of Lauren’s recommendation right into a First Support Package e-newsletter final yr — together with associated ideas from different superstars.  We’ll put a hyperlink within the present notes — it’s best to be capable of discover it wherever you’re listening, and you may join any of our newsletters at arm and a leg present dot com, slash, e-newsletter.

We will probably be again in three weeks.  

Until then, deal with your self.

This episode of An Arm and a Leg was produced by me, Dan Weissmann, edited in 2020 by Marian Wang, and for this re-release by Ellen Weiss. 

Emily Pisacreta is our senior producer. Adam Raymonda is our audio wizard.

Gabrielle Healy is our managing editor for viewers — she edits the First Support Package e-newsletter.

Sarah Ballema is our operations supervisor. Bea Bosco is our consulting director of operations.

An Arm and a Leg is produced in partnership with KFF Well being Information. 

That’s a nationwide newsroom producing in-depth journalism about well being care in America, and a core program at KFF — an unbiased supply of well being coverage analysis, polling, and journalism. 

You possibly can be taught extra about KFF Well being Information at arm and a leg present dot com, slash KFF. 

Zach Dyer is senior audio producer at KFF Well being Information. He’s editorial liaison to this present. 

Because of the INSTITUTE FOR NONPROFIT NEWS for serving as our fiscal sponsor, permitting us to simply accept tax-exempt donations. You possibly can be taught extra about INN at I-N-N dot org. 

And because of everyone who helps this present financially.  I’m about to shout out FIFTY individuals who donated within the final dozen days of 2023. You prepared?

Thanks this time to… [names redacted].

Thanks a lot!

“An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of KFF Well being Information and Public Street Productions.

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KFF Well being Information is a nationwide newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about well being points and is without doubt one of the core working packages at KFF—an unbiased supply of well being coverage analysis, polling, and journalism. Study extra about KFF.


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