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Is medical malpractice causing high healthcare costs?

Do you worry about your healthcare costs? Have you heard malpractice lawsuits are to blame? Get the real truth about high medical expenses.

It is no secret that the healthcare industry in Oklahoma and across the U.S. is in trouble. Insurance costs have been rising over the past decade with no signs of stopping. While the federal government has stepped in and tried to make changes, they have done little to help lower costs. Many of those in the government feel that medical malpractice is at the root of skyrocketing costs. This has led to the state introducing caps on monetary damages in such cases. However, it has yet to produce results, so is medical malpractice really to blame for rising healthcare costs?

The claims

According to Texas A&M University, the claims that medical malpractice is leading to higher costs comes from inside the industry. It is doctors and other healthcare providers who are making these statements. Obviously, they are biased. They do not want to be sued. They do not want to have to pay costly insurance premiums to protect themselves. So, it is not surprising that they would hope malpractice claims would go away, and telling people that they are making their costs go up is a good plan.

Healthcare providers claim that they must raise what they charge because they have to pay out these large settlements. They also point to the rising costs of malpractice insurance that they must somehow figure out how to pay. They say they pass these costs to the patients, which is raising the overall price people pay for healthcare.

However, Insurance Journal notes large settlements, those over $1 million, are actually quite rare. They make up only about one percent of the costs in the industry or around $1.4 billion. So, making claims that large malpractice settlements are driving up the costs in the industry is simply wrong.

The real cause for concern

When looking more closely at the issue of rising healthcare costs, though, there is something else that stands out. The idea of defensive medicine, where doctors go overboard on testing and procedures to serve as a way to cover themselves should a patient try to claim malpractice, is occurring at significant rates. Many of the tests and procedures being done are not necessary or needed to diagnosis or treat a patient, but doctors are doing them anyways as a way to make patients think they are getting better care and to make them happier. Defensive medicine may be costing around $60 billion a year. This is far more than large malpractice settlements.

The reality is that medical malpractice claims are not driving up medical costs in a significant way. The real issue are doctors fear being sued so much that they are conducting frivolous tests and procedures on their patients in the hopes they will never see a lawsuit, which is not beneficial to anyone. If you have concerns over a medical malpractice situation, then you should feel free to take legal action and discuss it with an attorney, such as those at Ward & Glass, LLP.