Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Red Herring of Tort Reform

There's an excellent post and discussion over at Firedoglake this morning discussing the role of tort reform in the health care reform debate.
Snip: "In the early part of the decade, doctors clamored for tort reform in response to insurance companies jacking up their rates for malpractice insurance. Now, 46 states have passed some version of it. But ironically, malpractice premiums are lower in states without caps. Doctors did not benefit, and the patients who had their rights eliminated certainly did not benefit. So who came out winners from a decade of destroying the civil justice system?

That would be the insurance industry. Tort law changes made medical negligence cases so difficult to pursue that claims dropped precipitously. Between 2000 and 2006, the amount of money insurance companies paid out decreased by 15%. But that did not help the doctors because insurance companies never passed on those savings. In fact, the amount of money insurance companies took in from doctors increased by 120%.

To their credit, insurance industry execs and enemies of civil justice never denied they had pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes. “Insurers never promised that tort reform would achieve specific premium savings,” said the American Insurance Association in 2002. “We wouldn’t tell you or anyone that the reason to pass tort reform would be to reduce insurance rates,” said Sherman “Tiger” Joyce, head of the tort reform movement in 1999. "
As I mentioned there in the comments, the red herring of tort reform is ironically obscuring the huge Red Elephant in the middle of the whole discussion.  Namely - people who know that they, or a family member will most likely be denied ANY coverage FOREVER (any kind of coverage - even for a hangnail),  due to a now "pre-existing" health condition that was somebody else's fault has no choice but to wring as much $$ as they possibly can, when they can via a lawsuit from the insurance company of the responsible party.
If you give people no other option than to look to insurance companies for their health care.... it should come as no surprise, whatsoever that hey!  People are going to look to insurance for their health care!   If they can't get their own policy to pay for it then they'll do whatever then can to get somebody else's to do so.

1 comment:

Irish Jim said...

I love your incite!