A while ago, I got in an argument with a lawyer about tort reform and health care costs.
The lawyer felt that tort reform would do nothing to control health care costs. Her argument was that it's incredibly hard to bring a lawsuit against someone (i.e. there are no frivolous lawsuits) and she cited studies that said that malpractice did not significantly contribute to health care costs. Specifically, this was her comment on why C-section rates are high:
"All things that are related to malpractice, including insurance and suits, account for less than half of 1 percent of spending. So tort reform wouldn't actually lower medical care cost at all, contrary to the cleverly-executed agenda campaigns driven by decisive interest groups. Especially given that when it comes to actual malpractice suits (the rare one that makes it through impossible standards of scrutiny) almost every state has a cap on what can be paid out, or what can be claimed.
Essentially, it has NOTHING to do with trial attorneys who are pro-plaintiff rights. It has everything to do with insurance companies seeking to maximize profit. Insurance companies get to decide the value of a medical procedure or how much the medical professional is worth. They get to determine how much it costs to insure a medical professional, a formula which is partially determined on risk, as in, how competent the doctor is, how many complaints have been filed, etc.
They figured out that C-sections mean big money. Treating labor and delivery like an assembly line means more productivity, and thus, more payouts. Why have one doctor waste twelve hours with a stubborn fetus when you can deliver twelve in one hour, with the added benefit of epidural charge, oxygen tank charge. You get the idea.
Are there frivolous lawsuits out there? Of course. But they are rare, and I really wish before people spouted off an uniformed opinion, they actually took the time to do the research to see how difficult it really is to get any kind of malpractice case off the ground, how strict scrutiny actually is, and that each restriction on malpractice or rights to sue only hurts the injured."
Without looking at any articles, I know that fear of malpractice raises health care costs considerably. I am a doctor. I know how many tests I order that I know will be negative that I only get because of the fear of liability in that teeny tiny chance that I'm wrong. But how do you measure that in a study?