Consumer Confidential

Consumer Confidential With David Lazarus
How to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Talent — and cash
It shouldn't take generous strangers to help patients cope with drug prices

The inherent goodness of people was made clear this week when a pair of readers offered to pay for a 75-year-old Encino man’s prescription meds after the drug maker imposed a $1,100 deductible to be eligible for financial assistance.

Read more
How you can cash in — or do some good — with your unused gift cards
Disney streaming venture could make bloated pay-TV bundles obsolete

In the end, bloated, costly pay-TV bundles, which consumers have despised for years, could be killed off by a mouse.

Disney’s announcement this week that it will launch two Internet-based streaming-TV services — one for sports and one for family fare — is a declaration of independence from cable and satellite companies that would have subscribers pay for hundreds of channels they may never watch.

Read more
Drug companies are growing less generous in helping patients pay for meds

For 14 years, Encino resident Ed Wright received an expensive prescription medication for free through a drug-industry program intended to assist people with limited or fixed incomes.

Now he’s rationing his doses after a change to the program that imposed a $1,100 deductible before he can get a refill.

“I can’t afford that,” Wright, 75, told me. “When I run out in a few weeks, that’s going to be it.”

Read more
The guy who stole my identity 15 years ago just resurfaced in my life

Ten years ago this week, I wrote my first column for the Los Angeles Times. The topic was the huge mess that ensued after a guy in Connecticut stole my identity and ran up unpaid bills with credit card companies and Indian casinos.

I wrote about how I had to investigate the case myself — police nab fewer than 5% of identity thieves — and serve up my findings to law enforcement authorities.

Read more
EDITION: California | U.S. & World