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Emergency care's various problems

May 25, 2008

If the state bans balance billing for emergency room services, specialists such as cardiologists and neurologists -- whose skills are often the difference between life and death in the ER -- would leave hospitals with emergency rooms and go to those without. ("Billing issue has patients feeling ill," May 17.)

This means ever-fewer critical care specialists available on-call for ER patients.

Would you expect a store to sell an $800 suit for $400 because that's all you want to pay? The only reason the state health agency expects this of ER specialists is because of insurance companies' lobbying and political connections.

However, because specialists can choose where to practice and what patients to see, the real losers in this health insurers' power play will be Californians rushed to the ER in life-threatening circumstances.

Jodie Munden

San Clemente

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I was treated last summer at Huntington Memorial Hospital and Huntington Cancer Center in Pasadena. I received excellent care and was treated by a caring and world-class staff.

Dealing with the paperwork and billing was a different matter, however. The billing was confusing, but I promptly responded to each request for payment. The result: I overpaid by more than $1,200.

My credit balance has existed since November. You can be sure that if this situation were reversed, I would have been sent to a collection agency and hounded for payment long ago.

Gloria V. Mullendore

Pasadena

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We were in Denmark when my grandson fell and needed stiches in his chin. After leaving emergency my son inquired about the charge. They said, "No charge." If he needs care now, maybe it would be cheaper to send him to Denmark.

Mary C.Thomas

Garden Grove

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