Consumer Confidential

Consumer Confidential With David Lazarus
California Inc.: Apple reality show features coding for dollars

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.

I’m Business columnist David Lazarus, and here’s a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.

Some good news Friday on the home front: California again put up solid employment numbers in July, adding 36,400 new positions.

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When banks play unfairly, consumers want chance to be heard in court

The vast majority of consumers want to know they can seek their day in court if they get in a beef with a bank.

That’s the main takeaway of a report last week from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which examined so-called mandatory arbitration clauses in bank contracts.

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Whistle-blowing: Insurer gets smacked for bullying employees

Seems like every time conservatives make the case for less regulation of business, some well-known company gets caught breaking rules intended to protect consumers, workers or the general public.

This time, it’s Woodland Hills insurer Health Net Inc., which was busted for strong-arming employees into keeping quiet about questionable company practices.

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Drug companies spend millions to keep charging high prices

Pharmaceutical heavyweight Mylan, the latest poster child for drug-industry greed, finally stuck up for itself Thursday. It argued that “the system,” not avarice, was to blame for the company jacking up the price of EpiPens, a common (and life-saving) allergy remedy, by over 400%.

“Look, no one’s more frustrated than me,” Mylan Chief Executive Heather Bresch declared on CNBC.

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California Inc.: Seeking cleaner air for SoCal, battling Pokémon

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.

I'm Business columnist David Lazarus, and here's a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.

The latest shot across the economy’s bow: Consumers, accounting for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, eased up on spending last month.

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Deciphering your hospital bill — good luck with that

Denis Robinson wasn’t bothered in the least that he was billed nearly $100,000 by Providence Tarzana Medical Center for the recent removal of his gallbladder.

“What do I care?” he said. “I have Medicare Plan F, the Cadillac of Medicare plans. They covered every dime.”

Actually, Robinson, 69, should care a great deal.

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