Question of the Week: August 18, 2015

In countries with socialized health care, one price a society has to usually pay for such a valuable social service is accepting some limitations on torts related to medical malpractice. This protection for doctors in all but the most egregious violations ostensibly serves to encourage people to enter the profession and controls costs by limiting liability. Given the inherently litigious bent American society has taken over the last thirty years, this naturally flows into the discussion about universal health care.

About Gene Howington

I write and do other stuff.
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24 Responses to Question of the Week: August 18, 2015

  1. randyjet says:

    But that will limit the wealth that lawyers can get.. Which is more important? Wealthy or well off doctors or lawyers?

    • Actually that plays to a misconception, Randy. Malpractice awards amount to only about 1-2% of hospital profits year to year. Med mal isn’t the crushing drain on health care dollars some would have you believe.

      • randyjet says:

        Gene, The major costs of malpractice are borne by the doctors, NOT the hospitals unless they have an equpment or plant or staff failure. The costs of malpractice insurance for some specialties went through the roof and drove many doctors out of practice. A national health care system would make high award suits needless since most of the awards are for lifetime care when the docs screw up.

        • Actually Randy I just read a story today that contradicts that notion. Unless you are a specialist like an anesthesiologist, malpractice premiums are falling. And even then it is not the doctors who pay, it is the insurance company who make money by hedging risk and playing the odds.

          • randyjet says:

            The fact is that malpractice insurance is verry high for doctors in most states. I knew a fellow pilot who was a doctor, GP and ME, and he gave up getting insurance and restricted his operations to simple ones that posed no risk. The Ob-gyns were run out of many states because of the rates.

            In Texas we did something even dumber by limiting awards by law. That stopped most malpractice suits since the recovery was so small for the outlay and risk for the lawyers, it made it financially impossible to take contingency suits. So the wealthy still can sue, but the ordinary folks who cannot lay out $100000 to start cannot. The malpractice rates dropped by one third, but of course, they should have dropped even further since the insurance companies were raking it in.

  2. bigfatmike says:

    “Med mal isn’t the crushing drain on health care dollars some would have you believe.”

    I have heard that before and don’t dispute it. Limiting mal practice awards will not cure the health care cost problem.

    But I wonder if successful suits have changed the practice of medicine to a degree that is affecting the cost curve. It seems to me that is a much more difficult proposition to evaluate.

    As a simple first cut, it seems we would have to identify defensive practices that would not occur in the absence of successful litigation, then estimate their value over time. I would guess this indirect cost of litigation is largely unknown.

    Does anyone have any information regarding changes in the practice of medicine due to successful litigation?

  3. pete says:

    You can’t do anything about medical costs without addressing the cost the of medications themselves. Heard of “Harvoni” the new cure for hepatitis c? At $1,125 per pill.

    Cost of 8-week course of therapy = $63,000
    Cost of 12-week course of therapy = $94,500
    Cost of 24-week course of therapy = $189,000

    One I use, Advair Diskus costs around $230.00. I know someone who bought one overseas for $8.00 (and no, it wasn’t a cheap knockoff).

    i understand pharmaceutical companies need to make money but here in the U.S. we really overpay for prescriptions.

  4. Harvey says:

    What happened to the ‘Suggestions” comments of several days ago?

  5. Harvey,

    The blog is in transition. Part of the changes being made. Suggestions are going to be handled by email in the future. Less maintenance.

    • bigfatmike says:

      The suggestions section was nice in that we could all see interesting ideas and comment if we choose.

      But it did, over time, lead to some dead wood in stale, irrelevant, and resolved comments.

      email couldn’t be worse and it sounds like it might work better. Give it a try.

  6. Randy,

    You’ve hit on part of the problem with insurance as a whole: the crazy patchwork of regulation left to fester at the state level. It’s an interstate business in the end. It should be regulated like one.

  7. “But it did, over time, lead to some dead wood in stale, irrelevant, and resolved comments.”

    And it takes a surprisingly large amount of work to scrub the page periodically because of that. WP has no “page wide” mass deletion feature. Manually trashing 40-80 individual postings is just a pain.

  8. Note on Transition: Part of the goal of changing formats is not just beautification, but reducing work loads on authors and editors. I currently have a lot of constraints on my time, for one, and struggle to make time to do this anymore. To keep the blog going, we all needed it to change to where it is as effortless as possible for everyone involved. Please bear with us as the blog changes form.

  9. BFM, your observations and suggestions are appreciated more than you know. We are also working on the email issue behind the scenes. There are other issues as well, not the least of which is figuring out how to make Edible Flowers a separate blog page. As it is, additions to EF end up getting lost in regular comment threads. I am also in the process of updating my own web page. Considering how to add a blog page dedicated solely to my professional needs and interests. WordPress is both super simple and complicated at the same time.

    All of us are busier than that one-legged fellow at the ass kicking contest, so to second what Gene said, hope everyone is patient. Unlike some other bloggers, we do not have a staff of secretaries and grad students to do research and write stories for us. We hope to eventually use a model similar to some other successful blogs, in that it will be easier for good writers to submit fresh and interesting material without a hassle.

  10. Randy Jet, Chuck Stanley and Gene Howington, I believe that people should be able to select their health insurance policies or pay out of pocket if they choose to. Not have government officials impose one healthcare law upon a whole nation.

  11. Jeffrey,

    Your beliefs are yours and you are entitled to them, however, they do betray an ignorance of not only the fundamentals of the very notion of insurance but an egregious lack of knowledge about how the rest of the Western world addresses heath care in general.

    Libertarians. No sense of the world past their own egos and wallets (often interchangeable, batteries not included).

  12. Gene Howington, your assessment is wrong. Libertarians do want to help the needy. Just not use force of government to do that. If you want to be a slave to the government, go ahead. Your assessment of what constitutes a libertarian is wrong. What about people who try to exempt themselves from a law that they enact on the rest of society?

  13. Jeffery,

    Straw man much?

    Seriously weak.

    Try harder.

    By the way, know that I don’t play when it comes to argumentation. Conversation is one thing. Argument, another. Brietbart even tried to hire me once over at Turley’s because I kept sending his trolls home in body bags. Many of the posters here have known me for years and while they might relish the return by my green self to the arena as a form of verbal bloodsport? They do know exactly what I am capable of doing to those who lose their way. Don’t poke the bear- yada yada – but if you do? You’d better come at me with a better weapon than a weak straw man.

    Because that just makes me giggle.

  14. Gene Howington, Congress exempted themselves from Barack Obama’s healthcare plan. Did you know that?

    • bigfatmike says:

      “Gene Howington, Congress exempted themselves from Barack Obama’s healthcare plan. Did you know that?”

      I would like to be the first to demand legislation that would would take all assets and earnings of elected federal representative into a blind trust for the duration of their service and provide for them from programs that are point for point equivalent to Medicaid, Section 8 housing, TANF and food stamps.

  15. Jeffrey, that is another straw man. Actually, Congress kept the rest of us from getting the kind of health care they get. .

  16. ragnarsbhut says:

    Gene Howington and Chuck Stanley, who can make your decisions better for you from the standpoint of medical care- you yourselves or the government?

  17. ragnarsbhut says:

    The so-called rights to healthcare should never come out of the pocket of another person. The fact of the matter is that healthcare is a service, not a right. I vote for free market health care. How can a service & goods be a “right”? That would mean that someone has to be a slave and someone has to have goods stolen from them in order the recipient to get the treatment and medicine as a “right.” Health care is not a right and never was and never will be a right. Social Contract Theory is the Left’s favorite “go-to” for Healthcare as a right. The problem is, you don’t have an inherit right to another person’s service. That’s slavery. The only way the government can operate is through coercion and force. The moment that government has to infringe rights to create new ones, it has lost its purpose and has violated the Social Contract created by the People to uphold and protect the Constitution. Healthcare is a “positive right”, meaning it has to exist by taking away the rights of others. Healthcare is not a right. No one is entitled to the fruits of other’s labour. Leftists should stop abusing language for a facade of moral superiority. If healthcare is a right, how much does the government have to provide someone before they’re being deprived of a right? Do the people only have a right to $50 in treatment from the government? That’s probably not enough in the eyes of Leftists, but does that mean the government has to pay tens of millions in order to keep us alive? Billions? Unless those on the Left can give a reason for where we should draw the line, this is just emotional gibberish. There are plenty of goods more crucial than “privileges” that don’t rise to the level of being “rights.” Healthcare is a service. Not a right. I know that those on the Left can’t grasp that you don’t have the right to other people’s labor but it’s time to wake up. Government is not our nanny, people should take care of themselves. Healthcare is neither a right nor a privilege. Healthcare is a commodity. You don’t have the right to coerce doctors to treating people. That’s called slavery. You need food to survive but it doesn’t give you the right to rob the local bakery. Healthcare is a commodity. It is a good/service. Free speech is a right since it doesn’t come at anyone else’s expense. Anything that costs money to produce, by definition cannot be a right. Healthcare is expensive as hell. Doctors go to school for years and have high salaries as a result. Someone has to pay for it. It’s not free. Therefore, it cannot be a right. The best we can do is allow competition to make it as affordable as possible. As it stands, there is very little competition in the healthcare and insurance industry. Health insurance should be for catastrophic and expensive care. It shouldn’t cover so much other crap that could otherwise be cash based. Therefore, insurance premiums could be very affordable, and since everything under a certain price would be cash based, prices would have to cater to consumers. This would cause a lot of healthcare goods and services to drastically drop in price. And for people who still couldn’t afford healthcare, we could figure something out. But for the majority of the country, we should have affordable private insurance. Health care is not a right. A right is a freedom from the government. It is not a government service you are entitled to. The truth About Universal Healthcare is: It does not work and you will pay a lot of taxes for it. Only idiots or foolish, misled people believe that socialized medicine is a good idea.

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