Monday, December 29, 2008


Your headline, "Lawyers bills pile high, driving up health care costs," could not have been more wrong. A simple check of total U.S. health care costs- over $2.3 trillion in 2007 (that's 2,300 billion dollars)- compared to the costs of all medical negligence lawsuits- less than $7 billion nationwide- reveals the truth behind your misleading headline. "Lawyers' bills" contribute less than $1 for every $300 spent on health care costs.

The real issue in health care costs isn't reducing the impact lawyers have, it's how to eliminate insurance costs and reduce skyrocketing expenses for hospital stays, doctors' bills, and prescription drugs. One way to eliminate all malpractice insurance costs, which are billions more than litigation costs, would be to end all medical malpractice lawsuits and change from a a fault based tort system that relies on adversarial litigation to prove negligence and switch to a no-fault system which would reduce physicians' and hospitals' premiums to zero. Fund it with a half percent (.5%) sales tax on all medical services, which would add only 50 cents to each $100 bill, and allocate the money to a fund available to all persons injured during medical procedures without regard to fault. A useful analogy is the old flight insurance which could be purchased for a dollar in airports- if the passenger died in a crash, his beneficiaries got $100,000 without having to prove the airline was negligent.

No lawyers or insurance premiums would be necessary, doctors wouldn't have to practice defensive medicine, and no physician would have to exit a specialty like ob-gyn because of insurance costs. All awards would be public information and no confidential settlements would be permitted, thus doing a better job than the current system in informing and protecting the public from bad doctors


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