Defensive medicine


Support for ObamaCare is crumbling rapidly as people are getting more aware of its weaknesses. Yet one area in which the president Obama could curb costs is tort reform, which for many years has been a major driver of increasing health care expenditures. The fact is that American doctors have in recent decades increasingly resorted to defensive medicine (a recent study put the number at 87% of doctors) . These doctors are reckless in employing all available diagnostic procedures simply to escape claims of malpractice by their patients.

The price tag for this type of defensive medicine in the US amounts to somewhere between $100 and $200 billion per year. This considerable sum forms the livelihood of a group of well-heeled and specialized lawyers, who happen to be among the biggest sources of funding for the Democratic party. So for purely political reasons this is a no-go-zone for the Obama administration. In addition the rapidly increasing rates for malpractice insurance are invisible to patients:

- Nearly $2,000 a year in extra health expenses for an average family, according to the rate of defensive medicine found in a study by Daniel Kessler and Mark McClellan.

- Stuart Weinstein…has calculated that if a doctor delivers 100 babies a year and pays $200,000 for insurance (the rate in Florida), "$2,000 of the delivery cost for each baby goes to pay the cost of the medical liability premium."

If this money could be transferred into a patients health savings account about half of the yearly health budget for a middle income family of four would be provided for.