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Letters: Medical billing done wrong

May 16, 2012

Re "Itemized medical bills sorely lacking," Column, May 11

I read with amazement that the L.A. County Department of Health Services' computerized billing system cannot itemize a bill for services rendered. I don't believe that it would take a rocket scientist to add code to generate an itemized bill.

It is also surprising that "it is possible" the new electronics record system the county is shopping for "would allow for itemized medical bills." Hopefully the county doesn't accept non-itemized bills from its vendors.

I am also shocked that private insurers "seldom ask for more information when bills come their way." There is apparently no incentive for them to check invoices to ensure accuracy. And you wonder why private health insurance is so expensive.

Ron Tan

Santa Barbara

Larry Gatton of the Department of Health Services' billing office says that an itemized bill can be provided if the patient wants one. I got an itemized bill from a non-county hospital once. It was line after line of medical codes followed by a price. It was indecipherable to anyone without specialized training in medical billing and insurance procedures.

Itemized billing alone isn't the answer. Health providers should by law be required to provide an invoice that's understandable to any person, not just those trained in the secret language of the medical-insurance complex.

Jay Wilson

Lawndale

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