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Medical malpractice insurance premiums unchanged for more than a decade

For years, doctors and hospitals have fought for ways to reduce or eliminate the rights of injured patients to receive compensation. Massive lobbying helped them implement "tort reform" in a number of jurisdictions. These groups argued that spurious litigation and runaway insurance premiums were driving the sharp rise in the cost of health care. Those groups continued their lobbying efforts when the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, was being discussed. Medical professionals claimed that lawsuits would spike and costs would rise under the ACA. A recent survey indicates that the Act has not made any difference in medical malpractice premiums.

The medical malpractice insurance canard

The reality is that medical malpractice premiums have been flat for more than a decade. Malpractice lawsuits were never the driving force behind rising health care costs. Tort reform, where it has been enacted, has not returned health care to its previously affordable levels. The only thing tort reform has done is make it harder for the victims of negligent medical care to get the money they deserve for the damage done to them. 

No rise in malpractice claims

The medical industry claimed that the ACA would lead to a surge in malpractice lawsuits. The theory was that people with insurance would be more likely to seek care and suffer harm from medical mistakes. Lobbying by the medical industry has led to historically low rates of medical malpractice lawsuits. While studies continue to show that hundreds of thousands of patients are injured or killed each year by medical negligence, doctors are rarely held accountable. The quality of care is not improving, as doctors and hospitals have little incentive to make changes.

Discovering malpractice

The medical field is not well known for its forthrightness. Patients who suffer injury and families who lose loved ones to inadequate care are not likely to learn the truth from their doctor. Outdated and unsafe practices are allowed to persist while patients suffer. Doctors do not pay higher premiums today than they did 10 years ago. They are less likely than ever to be sued for medical malpractice. They are protected by colleagues and a culture that encourages secrecy over honesty. The result is that patients continue to suffer harm at an unacceptable rate. The Affordable Care Act does not appear to have had any effect on this unfortunate state of affairs.

Source: Forbes, "Doctor Malpractice Premiums Remain Flat Amid Obamacare 'Tumult'" by Bruce Japsen, 14 October 2016 

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