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Those with serious illness need facts before choosing treatment

August 23, 2004

Re: "More choice, at a cost," Aug. 16: It is interesting that this article follows the example of a couple about to have a baby. Giving birth must be one of the most routine and common hospital experiences. Comparing the costs from one facility to another can be straightforward.

But what happens to the patient who is diagnosed with something more complicated, like cancer? The patient now has to determine the most effective course of treatment, then figure out where it is available for the least expense, all the time suffering from the disease and the shock of the diagnosis. It is undeniable that we will never rein in healthcare costs until the consumer can make informed choices. But the information has to come first, lots of it, easily accessible and understandable, before we are forced to make the decisions.

Cathy Lascola

Santa Monica

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