New Data Shows Tort Law Changes Won’t Reduce Malpractice Premiums

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For Immediate Release: October 29, 2009

Contact: Ray De Lorenzi
202-965-3500, ext. 8369
media.replies@justice.org

New Data Shows Tort Law Changes Won’t Reduce Malpractice Premiums

Insurance companies lobby to limit patients’ legal rights, yet never pass savings onto physicians or consumers

Washington, DCTort law changes have failed to reduce malpractice insurance costs, and states with caps on damages often have higher premiums than states without caps, according to an analysis of just-released liability data.

While insurance companies have claimed tort law changes would lower physicians’ premiums, this has not been the case.  There is either no difference in rates between cap and non-cap states, or cap states actually have higher premiums – underscoring how a state’s liability laws play no role in lowering insurance or overall health care costs.  Doctors’ premiums rise and fall based on the insurance cycle, totally unrelated to the legal system.

The new data shows:

  • Average liability premiums across internists, general surgeons and OB/Gyns are nearly identical for states with or without caps.
  • Average liability premiums for OB/Gyns are nearly identical for states with or without caps.
  • Average liability premiums for general surgeons are 9.3% higher in states with caps.
  • Average liability premiums for internal medicine are 9.9% higher in states with caps.

“Malpractice insurers promised tort law changes would lower premiums, yet it has not happened,” said American Association for Justice President Anthony Tarricone.  “While these companies make record profits off the backs of doctors, patients injured through no fault of their own are often unable to seek recourse.  This information comes at an important time in the health care debate – providing clear evidence that tort law changes won’t decrease costs.”

The above statistics were derived from data released this month in Medical Liability Monitor.  More information and charts on this data can be found at www.justice.org/clips/premiums2009.pdf.

As part of its ongoing series on the topic, AAJ earlier released Medical Negligence: A Primer for the Nation’s Health Care Debate, The Truth About “Defensive Medicine,” and The Insurance Hoax: How Doctors and Patients Pay for the Huge Earnings of Medical Malpractice Insurers, all of which can be located at www.justice.org/medicalnegligence.

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