Thursday, July 07, 2005
When not to trust your doctor. You've heard all those scary stories about how rising medical malpractice insurance is driving your doctor out of business, right? And of course, you've heard that it's because the number of malpractice claims and the size of jury awards is skyrocketing, which means we need to cap jury awards for malpractice, right? Wrong.
This study (summarized in press release here) shows that during W's first term of office, malpractice claims did not increase during a time that malpractice premiums went up 120%. The percentage of revenue that malpractice insurance companies paid out for claims actually decreased 25% to 51.4% of premiums.
This article summarizes the study and includes critical reactions from insurers (surprise!) and from the head of the American Medical Association. No one likes to pay higher insurance rates, and no one likes to be sued, so you'd expect physicians to want legal reforms that they think will lower premiums and limit their malpractice losses. There's another reason why physicians are so eager for "tort reform," though; the largest malpractice insurance companies are owned by physicians and their medical societies, so they've profited hansomely from premium increases over the past four years!