Medical Costs and Lawyers

July 24th, 2009

From Why Obamacare Is Sinking by Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post:

[W]hy is it …┬áthat in this grand health-care debate we hear not a word about one of the worst sources of waste in American medicine: the insane cost and arbitrary rewards of our malpractice system?

When a neurosurgeon pays $200,000 a year for malpractice insurance before he even turns on the light in his office or hires his first nurse, who do you think pays? Patients, in higher doctor fees to cover the insurance.

And with jackpot justice that awards one claimant zillions while others get nothing — and one-third of everything goes to the lawyers — where do you think that money comes from? The insurance companies, which then pass it on to you in higher premiums.

Krauthammer continued:

But the greatest waste is the hidden cost of defensive medicine: tests and procedures that doctors order for no good reason other than to protect themselves from lawsuits. Every doctor knows, as I did when I practiced years ago, how much unnecessary medical cost is incurred with an eye not on medicine but on the law.

Tort reform would yield tens of billions in savings. Yet you cannot find it in the Democratic bills. And Obama breathed not a word about it in the full hour of his health-care news conference. Why? No mystery. The Democrats are parasitically dependent on huge donations from trial lawyers.

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2 Responses to “Medical Costs and Lawyers”

  1. Brian |

    Well, one thing you can count on is that if Uncle Sugar takes over health care, the lawsuits will probably come to a grinding halt. I’m sure you’re aware, Tom, but most people are not: you have to get permission from the federal government to be able to sue the federal government.

    What happens to liability issues for doctors and nurses if the government is “taking care of things”? What happens if the government is only willing to “reimburse” a neurosurgeon $300,000 a year, and the neurosurgeon must still pay $200K in liability premiums? We won’t have any neurosurgeons left.

  2. Tom |

    True, the government has to give permission to sue the government. But given the political influence of trial lawyers, I’m sure a way will be found to permit them to sue some entity that manages government-controlled health care. The trial lawyers will always get their taste.

    It’s been said that after a global nuclear war, the only creatures left alive will be cockroaches. And some of those cockroaches will be trial lawyers, looking for someone to drag into a court somewhere for a contingency fee.

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