Home » Medical Malpractice » Yet another study debunks medical malpractice myths

Yet another study debunks medical malpractice myths

A major new study released by Americans for Insurance Reform finds that premiums and claims for doctors both have dropped significantly in recent years while the medical malpractice insurance industry is enjoying remarkable profits in light of the global economic collapse. It concludes that further limiting the liability of negligent doctors and unsafe hospitals is not only unjustified, but also would have almost no impact lowering this country’s overall health care expenditures.

AIR’s report, True Risk: Medical Liability, Malpractice Insurance and Health Care, is by Gillian Gillian Cassell-Stiga and Joanne Doroshow of the Center for Justice & Democracy, and actuary J. Robert Hunter, who is Director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), former Commissioner of Insurance for the State of Texas, and former Federal Insurance Administrator under Presidents Carter and Ford.

In describing the study’s findings, Hunter said, “Thirty years of inflation-adjusted data show that medical malpractice premiums are the lowest they have been in this entire period. This is in no small part due to the fact that claims have fallen like a rock, down 45 percent since 2000. The periodic premium spikes we see in the data are not related to claims but to the economic cycle of insurers and to drops in investment income. Since prices have not declined as much as claims have, medical malpractice insurer profits are higher than the rest of the property casualty industry, which has been remarkably profitable over the last five years.

“Our study also shows that states that have passed severe medical malpractice tort restrictions on victims of medical error have rate changes similar to those states that haven’t adopted these harsh measures. Finally, our research makes clear that medical malpractice claims and premiums have almost no impact on the cost of health care. Medical malpractice premiums are less than one-half of one percent of overall health care costs, and medical malpractice claims are a mere one-fifth of one percent of health care costs. If Congress completely eliminated every single medical malpractice lawsuit, including all legitimate cases, as part of health care reform, overall health care costs would hardly change, but the costs of medical error and hospital-induced injury would remain and someone else would have to pay.”

Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, said, “Where’s the crisis? Medical malpractice claims are down. Premiums are down. Meanwhile, insurers are raking in money and belittling the fact that hundreds of thousands of patients are killed or injured due to medical negligence each year. Many states have already afforded health care providers extensive legal protections for reckless or unsafe medical care. Proposals in any national health care bill that will take even more money out of the hands of injured patients and into the pockets of insurers are utterly indefensible.”

You can full the full report by clicking here.


1 Comment

  1. jymbo53 says:

    A few things from a med mal guy:

    How healthy are those med mal insurance companies with this great climate? Not real good. Soft market, premiums down and investments stink. Articles talk about frequency while ignoring severity. This is dishonest. See PRI in NY with a negative surplus of $40mil. Not much of a surplus in my book, but I am not an accountant !! Sounds like death benefits- never got that one either!!

    I have done nothing but med mal claims since 1985, before then I was an x ray tech and litigation paralegal.

    Here is the deal and the solution:
    Nearly 60% of all monies paid on a case ,through the court system, does not go to the injured party. Surprised? There is plenty of fat to be saved on loss adjustment expenses and contingency fees. There is plenty of med mal and the smallest fraction gets to claim status, but that is enough to cripple many companies. I actually feel good about settling meritorious cases, but more cash needs to get to the actual patient.

    Med mal is a highly specialized area and needs its own forum- Arbitration.

    We could instantly drop the cost of each case by 30% while keeping the indemnity, rec’d by the patient, the same. Courts do not address the ” jury of peers” premise. Defined in Blacks dictionary as equal rank and station. Doctors do not get peers and are hurt by this disadvantage, addditionally , the hollywood courtroom scenes that amp up the non peer juries emotion and ultimately the verdicts.
    What does arbitration accomplish?:
    In arbitration the injured party gets the money and quickly, premiums come down, defensive medicine plummets, policies become affordable, higher limits are attainable, the cost of healthcare drops,the courts get declogged, while the attorneys involved on both sides still make a nice living. I could go on re the benefits or arbitration!! The field gets leveled. Each side picks the arbitors and they dont have to be doctors. To me, equal rank and station includes podiatrists, vets, dentists etc. The lay jury, Joe the plumber, will never get the subtleties of the accepted risks and complications of the elective retrograde cholangiopancreatatogram. Just imagine a panel of peers and trimming the tangetial costs of med mal by 30 something percent = billions. This solution may not be tolerable to those that make a fine living via the court system, but it does level the playing field. This forum gets the same of more money to the injured party. Why is it that good ideas never happen and we are always stuck shuffling the same deck of cards? regards Jim O’Hare VP med mal claims PIC

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