Health care and Tort reform

Of course none of the current reform bills have tort reform. Why is this important? If you are an OB/GYN, odds are you will be sued three times during your career. Your insurance bill will be from 100 to 250 thousand dollars per year depending on the state in which you practice. How many office visits is that?

Both California and Texas passed tort reform legislation which limited the “pain and suffering” claims. California reduced the cost of medical insurance by about 40% and Texas about 30%. In addition, Texas which used to have a net outflow of physicians, now has a net inflow. (Sorry – missing the links.) Of course the current House legislation, due to lawyers having a major seat at the table behind closed doors, actually penalizes California and Texas for having passed such legislation.

But that is not enough. A friend’s kid brother works in a law firm that specializes in Medical Malpractice. According to him, a bad year is one where they only win 85% of their cases. A good year is 95%. Of course they defend the health care providers – hospitals, doctors and nurses. And they make very good money! Who pays them? The insurance companies – who are paid by the medical professionals – who are paid by your insurance company – which is paid by YOU! Even if your employer pays the insurance company because it is part of your compensation. Trickle down is true for more that just taxes. Just as businesses don’t pay taxes, they only collect them as part of the cost of doing business, so too for medical professionals when it comes to medical insurance.

Truth is that if winning 85% is a bad year, then it is safe to say that 50% of these cases should never have reached a court room. Judges just don’t have the background to determine if a case has merit. But it is not always easy to determine who is at fault. In any critical endeavor, it is good to remember Murphy’s Law in an almost paranoid manner. That is why pilots and astronauts do redundant boring check lists – just to ensure critical points have been addressed. Second, it is more important in the long run to solve why a problem happened rather than fixing blame.

Meanwhile, have you noticed the large number of lawyer ads on your TV? From 2004-2008, the number of solicitation ads have increased 1400% (14x) and the spending has increased 1500% (15x). That is only four years. And yes, you have paid for those ads also! (An excellent graphic from Willisms.com.)

What does this mean? Kill the bill is the only option for “We the People” – regardless of your party affiliation. And any Congress person, regardless of party, deserves to be voted out of office for supporting such cramdown legislation that will NOT decrease health care costs.

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One Response to “Health care and Tort reform”

  • Matt:

    Why would any tea party movement which celebrates the individual back tort reform, which essentially has the federal government override the decision of the jury in a state law action?

    And if you do believe it should happen, don’t believe it based on the above “statistics”. They’re half truths at best. In California, which passed damage caps in the 70s, malpractice premiums climbed for another decade until insurance reform passed. And how much have either of those things saved California citizens on their health care bill? Doesn’t appear to be any difference between them and citizens of states without this protection.

    In short: Insurer profits – not enshrined in the Constitution. Jury trials – enshrined in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

    If you’re a believer in the Constitution and individual rights, which one makes more sense?