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View from the street

April 12, 2011

In regard to David Lazarus' column on heavily discounted hospital bills, I would like to add an observation. In the example of Robert Hsu's bill being discounted from $266,000 to $42,000, nothing is made of the tragic reality this practice has on the uninsured.

Substitute an unemployed teacher or carpenter no longer able to afford insurance or qualify for Medicaid, and you will often have a financial tragedy. He will have no discount contract with the hospital, too often being forced to pay in full. I have no doubt that this way of doing business is one of the most common causes of personal bankruptcy filings.

And it wouldn't take something as serious as open-heart surgery to set this tragedy in motion. A ruptured appendix in your child would do the job as well.

Allen Newton, MD

Lake Arrowhead, Calif.

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Danger zone

Re "Search effort faulted in death," April 7

The tragic death of hiker Joe Le should serve as a reminder that the San Gabriel Mountains are a rugged and dangerous wilderness. This is no park. There are no lifeguards on duty and no barricades to keep people from falling off cliffs or being swept away in a river. When we enter these mountains, there is an acknowledgement that only our good judgment and experience will protect us and that society has no obligation to come to our immediate rescue should we fail.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday, April 18, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 10 Letters Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Budget math: An April 12 letter made calculations assuming that the $38 billion cut from the federal budget is 0.23% of this year's $1.65-trillion deficit. In fact, the cuts are 2.3% of the deficit.

Wilderness helps rejuvenate our souls and gives us an opportunity to find meaning in our lives. But it carries risks that we must understand and anticipate.

Alan Coles

Long Beach

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Both are juicy

Re "It's Five Guys vs. In-N-Out," Business, April 8

As a Southern Californian native and burger connoisseur, I call the battle between Five Guys and In-N-Out a draw.

Yes, the Cajun fries, hand-formed patties grilled to juicy perfection, free peanuts and loads of possible toppings lure me into Five Guys frequently. But if you're low on cash and you just have to have a shake with your burger, only In-N-Out can scratch that itch.

It's apples and oranges, and I'm thrilled to have my pick between the two.

Sean Ziebarth

Fountain Valley

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