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Opinion

Readers React: For-profit insurance companies can’t blame doctors for surprise medical bills

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Nurses and doctors work at an emergency room triage station at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in 2018.
( Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As a practicing physician and the managing partner of an emergency medicine practice, I know of the problem that patients have when they arrive at a hospital that is listed as participating in their health plan, but then find out that the physician who cared for them is out of network. (“Surprise medical bills could prompt rare bipartisan action in Congress,” May 21)

For Anthem Blue Cross to state, “There are some physicians who chose not to participate in our network and that this refusal allows them to charge consumers excessive amounts, well above what is customary and far greater than what we reimburse for out-of-network services,” is disingenuous.

The reason physicians opt out of their network is that the insurer offers to pay us so far below what is “customary.”

Make no mistake, the objective of for-profit health insurance companies is to make as much money as possible. The chief executive of Anthem Blue Cross made more than $14 million in 2018.

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Dr. Philip Schwarzman, Marina del Rey

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