Posts Tagged - ‘medical malpractice’

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Affordable Health Insurance and Tort Reform: Overhyped?

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Image: John of Austin under CC 3.0

Are the accusations levied at trial lawyers for medical malpractice lawsuits jacking up health insurance costs overblown? A new analysis of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data by Harvard researchers indicates that they may be.

According to the data, 2.4% of all health care spending in 2008 was related to medical malpractice and defensive medicine (intended to avoid lawsuit). While reducing that percentage could help in bringing about more affordable health insurance, tort reform isn’t a panacea in itself. States with strong tort reform have seen their health insurance costs rise just as sharply over the years.

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Do New York Courts Have A Medical Malpractice Soultion?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

The medical malpractice system has been heavily criticized for its contribution to soaring health insurance premiums. Many doctors practice defensive medicine–performing far too many expensive tests and procedures that are unnecessary, in order to avoid lawsuits.

A judge in New York thinks he has a soultion: treating all parties involved like people. Many families want vindication and justice, instead of extremely large sums of money. By having doctors and nurses apologize for any mistake, he has convinced victims to take smaller settlements as opposed to choosing a jury trial.

The affordable health insurance reform law sets $3 million aside for studying these methods to see if they can work nationally.

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Health Insurance Book Club: The Treatment Trap

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010


Many people believe that one of the main causes of rising health care costs is the overuse of care. A new book, The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care Is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do to Prevent It details cases of the thousands of Americans injured or killed by unnecessary procedures.

These expensive procedures end up with health insurance rates raised to cover the cost, and to what end? Authors Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prad Singh claim that there many procedures performed are wasteful. For example, why are women given a Pap smear (which tests for cervical cancer) if they’ve already had a hysterectomy–meaning that their cervix was removed?

Fear of medical malpractice lawsuits is just one of the reasons why the health insurance system is forced to foot the bill. This book helps to keep patients informed of the risks they take when seeking a diagnosis.

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Malpractice Worries Make Health Insurance Plans More Expensive

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Image: Patrick J. Lynch under CC 3.0

One of the primary causes of soaring health insurance plan costs is the sheer number of medical procedures and tests done. A recent study has found that up to one-fourth of those tests weren’t done for their actual merit or positive impact on the patient’s health. Instead, they were performed in order to decrease the chance of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Heart doctors are most likely to order invasive tests when other physicians in their area are doing so. Many believe that tort reform could help relieve their worries, and lead to more affordable health insurance because fewer unnecessary tests will be performed.

The healthcare reform bill takes a small step towards that end: it includes funding for states to develop pilot programs that explore alternatives to lawsuits. Some doctor’s offices struggle to remain open due to the expense of malpractice insurance!

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More Medical Care Isn’t Always Better

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Image: Laughing Squid under CC 3.0

When it comes to holding down health insurance plan costs, it is generally agreed on that a main factor is the sheer amount of utilization of medical care. Innovations in technology have resulted in significant improvements in life expectancy, but many believe that there are times when health care services are overused.

Obviously, nobody wants to forgo screenings or treatment when it’s necessary. However, there are some times when they can do more harm than good. For example, the risk of radiation from repeated colonoscopies, mammograms and CT scans can add up, while doing relatively little to catch cancer early in most patients under a certain age. Some believe that lifetime exposure can even increase a person’s risk of cancer!

Why is medical care often overused? Patients often demand it, and doctors may take the path of least resistance. Physicians may also be worried about being sued for medical malpractice in the worst-case scenario; doctors are more likely to be sued if they are perceived to not have done enough. Also, doctors tend to be paid on a per-procedure basis, giving them an incentive to perform more tests and procedures. No matter what, the cost is paid for by your health insurer, and passed onto you through more expensive health insurance premiums.

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