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Med Mal Insurance Profits Up, Claims Are Down, Study Finds

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 6:41 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Tort Reform, Medical Malpractice, Insurance Industry, Premiums, Caps, Pain and Suffering, Health Care Reform

A new study finds that efforts to limit medical malpractice lawsuits would have no impact in lowering this country's health care expenditures.

Study: No Basis To Limit Liability 

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IMAGE SOURCE: Cozy Crab Sunshade / CPSC

A major study released today by a coalition of nearly 100 consumer groups, finds that medical malpractice premiums and claims for doctors have dropped significantly in recent years at the same time as the insurance providers are enjoying record profits in a time of global economic collapse. 

Americans for Insurance Reform, represents groups from around the country that support strengthening state oversight of insurance industry practices.

The report, “True Risk: Medical Liability, Malpractice Insurance and Health Care” was prepared by 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.

The study finds that medical malpractice premiums are the lowest they’ve been over the last 30 years.  At the same time claims are down 45 percent since 2000.  

Actuary Hunter says “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.”

Tort Reform

As part of the tort reform movement, many states have imposed caps on awards or made it more difficult for people injured by medical malpractice to file claims. 

For example in Texas in 2003, the Texas insurance commissioner promised that if damages in medical malpractice cases were capped, rates would be reduced up to 19 percent.  Caps were passed in Texas limiting pain and suffering to $250,000.

Hunter acknowledges that tort reform has not reduced premiums.  “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.”

After Texas capped pain and suffering, major insurers requested rate hikes as high as 35 percent for doctors and 65 percent for hospitals, reports the Houston Chronicle. 

Hunter says if Congress eliminates medical malpractice lawsuits, consumers would be hurt but nothing else would change.  “The costs of medical error and hospital-induced injury would remain and someone else would have to pay.”

Tom Baker at the University of Pennsylvania School Of Law, writing in the New York Times last week says, “When it comes to rising medical costs, liability is a symptom, not the disease. Getting rid of liability might save money for hospitals and some high-risk specialists, but it would cost society more by taking away one of the few hard-wired patient safety incentives.”

Earlier this month, Public Citizen issued a study that showed for the third straight year, medical malpractice payments were at record lows. It concludes the decline is due to fewer injured patients receiving compensation, not improved health safety.

Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, asks, “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.” #


2 Comments

Posted by James Cool
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 7:05 PM EST

Not at all surprised.

Anonymous User
Posted by jacksmith
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 7:53 PM EST

LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY. (Thomas Paine)

We have the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed world.

I know that many of you are angry and frustrated that REPUBLICANS! In congress are dragging their feet and trying to block TRUE healthcare reform. What republicans want is just a taxpayer bailout of the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry, and the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry. An insurance bailout is all you really get without a robust government-run public option available on day one.

These industries have been slaughtering you and your loved ones like cattle for decades for profit. Including members of congress and their families. These REPUBLICANS are FOOLS!

Republicans and their traitorous allies have been trying to make it look like it’s President Obama’s fault for the delays, and foot dragging. But I think you all know better than that. President Obama inherited one of the worst government catastrophes in American history from these REPUBLICANS! And President Obama has done a brilliant job of turning things around, and working his heart out for all of us.

But Republicans think you are just a bunch of stupid, idiot, cash cows with short memories. Just like they did under the Bush administration when they helped Bush and Cheney rape America and the rest of the World.

But you don’t have to put up with that. And this is what you can do. The Republicans below will be up for reelection on November 2, 2010. Just a little over 13 months from now. And many of you will be able to vote early. So pick some names and tell their voters that their representatives (by name) are obstructing TRUE healthcare reform. And are sellouts to the insurance and medical lobbyist.

Ask them to contact their representatives and tell them that they are going to work to throw them out of office on November 2, 2010, if not before by impeachment, or recall elections. Doing this will give you something more to do to make things better in America. And it will help you feel better too.

There are many resources on the internet that can help you find people to call and contact. For example, many social networking sites can be searched by state, city, or University. Be inventive and creative. I can think of many ways to do this. But be nice. These are your neighbors. And most will want to help.

I know there are a few democrats that have been trying to obstruct TRUE healthcare reform too. But the main problem is the Bush Republicans. Removing them is the best thing tactically to do. On the other hand. If you can easily replace a democrat obstructionist with a supportive democrat, DO IT!

You have been AMAZING!!! my people. Don’t loose heart. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy saving the World. :-)

God Bless You

jacksmith — Working Class

Republican Senators up for re-election in 2010.

* Richard Shelby of Alabama
* Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
* John McCain of Arizona
* Mel Martinez of Florida
* Johnny Isakson of Georgia
* Mike Crapo of Idaho
* Chuck Grassley of Iowa
* Sam Brownback of Kansas
* Jim Bunning of Kentucky
* David Vitter of Louisiana
* Kit Bond of Missouri
* Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
* Richard Burr of North Carolina
* George Voinovich of Ohio
* Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
* Jim DeMint of South Carolina
* John Thune of South Dakota
* Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas
* Bob Bennett of Utah

Comments for this article are closed.

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