President Bush: The government must work to reduce costs through the spread of information technology, which many in the health field say will help reduce the rising costs substantially; litigation reform to prevent these frivolous lawsuits from running up the cost of medicine, either through the practice of defensive medicine and/or premium increases, and actually drive good docs out of business. I'm particularly concerned about OB/GYNs; we have an OB/GYN crisis in states because of these lawsuits.
This is excellent. Bush is proposing not one, but two completely inept approaches for reigning in health care costs. I'll refer to my Medical Malpractice Myth series, but here's your handy bullet-point approach to refuting medical malpractice:
• The vast majority of patients injured in malpractice do not sue. Research has found that 3-4% on average end up filing lawsuits, and many of these are simply to glean what happened
• Malpractice awards are lower in the United States on average than other countries
• Research indicates no jury bias towards patients, in fact juries tend to be biased in the favor of doctors.
• Research shows that juries aren't awarding any more money (adjusting for inflation and the cost of injury) than they did 40 years ago, nor are there more lawsuits
• The idea of defensive medicine is almost impossible to measure, but studies ambitious enough to do so have found very slightly higher rates of increased intervention. States with tort reform have slightly lower rates of increased spending (5-7%), but that benefit appears to disappear after 10 years
• All spending related to malpractice is estimated to equal less than one half of one percent of all health care spending
• There is no evidence of a rash of doctors leaving practice because of malpractice costs
Issues like tort reform and buzz-worthy insurance plans easily gain traction with the public. But neither of these solutions will make a dent in rising costs. They're only prolonging substantial reform, exposing more and more families to financial ruin in the meantime.