UVA Health System treated Heather Waldron in 2017 for complications from an intestinal malformation. The hospital sued her for $164,000 after she discovered her insurance had lapsed. (Griffin Pivarunas/for Kaiser Health News)

Regarding the Sept. 10 front-page article “Lawsuits and seizures in pursuit of medical debts”:

Whether the University of Virginia Health System tries to collect more medical debt than any other hospital is really not the point. What is important is that if you are uninsured or not insured to meet those specific charges, you pay a list price that can be 70 percent more than the price the insurance companies and insured covered patients pay.

What can justify that price gouging?

All insurance plans have non-network providers. In a health emergency, who among us will ask if their insurance is accepted, if the service or doctor is in-network, or if the emergency room or surgery costs are reasonable and justified? Will you weigh possible financial ruin against a decision to save your life or your family member’s life?

The hospitals are charging these outrageous fees because the insurance companies aren’t paying their share. Yet my and your insurance bills are high and increasing every year, and there are more people in financial crisis because of medical bills than from any other cause.

This is a medical emergency.

Sherri Deck, Rockville

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