One plank of the Republicans’ approach to Health Care Reform is Tort Reform. They claim that a major factor in increasing health care costs is unwarranted malpractice suits. There is no doubt that for certain medical specialties, malpractice insurance is very expensive. Last night, in his SOTU speech, President Obama agreed with the Republicans.
Here are some basic facts about malpractice suits. First, malpractices claims have been on a downward trend since 2003:
Second, malpractice rates made a serious jump between 2002 and 2006 but now appear to be on a downward trend. Third, the premium rate to claims rate is spreading. That is, the insurance companies are obtaining higher profits in sales of malpractice insurance.
Insurance claims are a drop in the bucket when it comes to the cost of health care. They account for less than 2%. And, we have to assume that some of the awards are well-deserved. In 2009, the CBO estimated that tort reform proprosals such as limiting caps to $250K might decrease the cost of health care by .2%. So, if per capita spending were $6000/annum, tort reform would amount to $120.