For many years, the AMA and insurance companies have contended that medical malpractice lawsuits have significantly driven up the cost of insurance and health care. A recent comprehensive study by Americans for Insurance Reform (AIR), a coalition of more than 100 consumer groups around the country, has demonstrated that these claims are false. The major findings of this study, which is the most comprehensive study on this issue ever performed, are as follows:
1. Medical malpractice claims are only 1/5 of one percent of annual U.S. health care costs;
2. Medical malpractice premiums, after adjustment for inflation, are the lowest they have been in 30 years;
3. Medical malpractice insurers today are earning higher profits than other parts of the property/casualty insurance industry;
4. Medical malpractice claims, after adjustment for inflation, are down 45% since 2000;
5. Many states that have not enacted “tort reform” legislation for medical malpractice cases have experienced the same insurance rate changes as those states which have enacted severe restrictions on patients rights.
In fact, if all medical malpractice claims were entirely eliminated, health care costs would not even be reduced by 1%. On the other hand, those people severely injured by medical negligence would be left destitute and would likely end up on public assistance programs, effectively transferring the cost of medical negligence from the responsible doctor and his insurance company to the government and the public.
The full text of the AIR report can be found at www.centerjd.org/air/TrueRiskF.pdf