1.05.2005

Malpractice Insanity

Tsunami Post is HERE

I used to think that nationalized healthcare was financially logical based on the numbers showing our health care costs compared to European and other nations as a percentage of GDP, 15% in America vs 10% in Canada.. A couple of months ago I realized that the problem wasn't with failings of the free market, it's a failure of the judicial system that allows frivolous and massive payouts which leads to ridiuclous malpractice insurance premiums for hospitals/doctors.
A quote:
"But the lawyers who win those awards for malpractice victims and other opponents of Bush’s initiative say the real problem is insurers who look to raise premiums and, consequently, their bottom line."

It's amazing to me that people still use that argument. The last time I checked there was more than one insurance company in America. That means that like any other business if you jack up rates too high people with flock to the competition. So the implication is that there is a malpractice insurance monopoly yet I haven't heard any Democrats complaining about this implied monopoly. In fact a Google search for malpractice insurance monopoly returns all of two results.

You can't put a price on someone's life. Doctors are only human, they make mistakes too. A 15Billion dollar payment for a family victimized by malpractice isn't sufficient if you consider life priceless. We know life is worth more than money but we have to put a price on it. Not only that but that price can't be detrimental to the rest of society. I've heard arguments about how healthcare should be a right. It is a right in America right now. You can walk into an Emergency room if you're really desparate and legally you can not be turned away. For the rest of us though, the free market is a healthy alternative.

So my thinking goes like this: Malpractice frivolity is fixed - health insurance premiums drop dramatically - disposable income for all Americans increases - that income is spent on innovative new things - the economy benefits - tax revenues increase - we're able to use some of the newfound wealth to pay for new clinics for the needy - everybody wins.

EDIT: Someone left an interesting comment, here's my updated thinking.
I appear to have learned something. 'pubs are blaming malpractice. Dem's are blaming greedy corporations. I'm going to blame nobody, technically I'm blaming the baby boom demographic shift and a newfound ability to make cheap unhealthy food which leads to the counterintuitive rise in lower class obesity.

60 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm from Belgium and have always been fond of our social security system including obviously, healthcare. This is despite that I have to give 13% of my wages to this social security system, and have been healthy all my life. But of course, I don't know any better.

Anyway, out of curiosity: has this malpractice insurance always been around in the U.S., and if not (which I'm just guessing): were the things you are predicting true then; were average Americans better off?

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Blogger Pacific John said...

It turns out that malpractice costs are only 1% of US healthcare costs. See the CNN cite in this Kos thread. It's not a secret, and can be easily checked.

The real wasted money is in cost avoidance and profit. At least 1/3 of US healthcare is not spent on patient care - a cost no other major industrialized country has. It gets very troubling when you see that our major metrics fall short. Our infant mortality rate and longevity are far from the top. US healthcare is great is you have a lot of money, and I mean *a lot*, but not for most of us.

If you wonder why this is, follow the money. Since insurance profits are regulated, insurance companies invest in higher profit securities. Every major mutual fund is started with insurance company money. Look at the names on the skyscrapers. Those companies have more money than God, and will not allow real reform until the system experiences a catastrophe.

If you think one med-mal case might end up worth a lot of money, look at the TransAmerica buiding and imagine the money that it, and hundreds like it, represents.

Hey, when are you doing V3? Very good job.

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I appear to have learned something. Bush is blaming malpractice. Kerry is blaming greedy corporations. I'm going to blame nobody, technically I'm blaming the baby boom demographic shift and a newfound ability to make cheap unhealthy food which leads to the counterintuitive rise in lower class obesity.

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