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Letters to the Editor: Some medical bill markups seem like blatant scams

Medical bills are often unpredictable and sometimes list charges that are outrageously unaffordable.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I was fascinated by David Lazarus’ column about a patient who was initially charged $809 for a plastic walking boot that goes for about $80 on Amazon. I had a similar experience with a different break, and my experience involved Medicare.

I fractured a bone in my right arm and got a brace after my cast was removed. I liked it so much that I bought another one to wear for my left arm for safety reasons when I exercise. It cost me $20.39 on Amazon.

Later, I received a bill from the brace supplier for $14.67. The supplier had already billed $73.37 to Medicare, which paid $58.70. I was being charged for the remainder.

The cost of the brace on the manufacturer’s site is $21.99. When I called the supplier, they said they were billing “what was allowed” but would discount their charge to $11.74 to me — after I said I would write my congressman (which I did).

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I am a firm believer in paying a fair price, but this was greedy and gouging in my opinion. Like the $809 boot, it is unconscionable that this is allowed.

Evelyn Noether Stokvis, Haworth, N.J.

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To the editor: Thanks to Lazarus for spotlighting Stephanie Noonan Drachkovitch’s story illustrating the need for systemic reform in our medical system. Kudos to Drachkovitch for questioning the morality of our current system for Angelenos who cannot afford insurance or healthcare.

We need to question why California, the fifth-largest economy in the world, doesn’t have an equitable, accessible healthcare delivery system.

The column concludes with Drachkovitch saying, “We can fix this,” and Lazarus writing, “All we need is the courage to try.”

State Assemblymen Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Alex Lee (D-San Jose) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) have the courage. Last February, they introduced Assembly Bill1400, the California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act.

AB 1400 will come to the Assembly floor next January. It deserves our support.

Carol Fodera, La Crescenta

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To the editor: Lazarus writes about a woman who was billed $809 for a prescribed orthopedic boot that sells on Amazon for around $80.

This reminds me of a friend who received extensive chemotherapy for breast cancer. She saw the provider’s original bill for around $750,000. Her insurer settled for a fraction of this amount, but we will never know how much that was.

I think we are all somehow paying for this game.

Ken Hense, Los Angeles


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