Avatar universal

Does this look right?


I can't remember if it was in this article or not, but I read something today regarding this health care program that sums up the state of affairs in this country.  The piece I was reading had a Q&A session about the program.... I cannot remember the question but it pertained to costs down the road and the first 4 words of that answer was, "well, we don't know".  That cracked me up..... "we don't know".....

I guess I do have to give credit where credit is due.  The guy clearly said he didn't know.  I guess that isn't lying. (If he isn't lying.)  But honestly, you'd think that they'd look at current spending models and trends regarding health care and kind of guess, or something.
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Avatar universal
My Mother was sick back in the early 70's with a congenital aneurysm. She had to undergo a very difficult test periodically and I recall that air was injected into her spine. She hated that test and she was one very strong woman. Anyway my Father, who was a doctor, told me that there was a new machine and it would eliminate the need for my Mom to undergo that horrible test. My Dad said there was only 1 machine in the country and he had an appointment in 6 weeks for my Mother. I was at that age when I just asked whatever popped into my head so I asked him how much it cost - the test with the new machine. This was before insurance paid everything. He said $25,000. I said "Wow, that's a lot of money". And he looked me right in the eye and solemnly said "Michael, that's the only GD thing money's good for".

Whenever I hear about costs associated with medical care I think of my Father and, though I didn't appreciate what he was saying then, time has passed and now I know precisely what he meant. And I agree with him.

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Avatar universal
Slightly different than your story.... About 13-14 years ago, I had numerous health problems that I was trying to deal with.  I was over 140 lbs over weight (blood pressure was good though), I was clinically depressed, the only time I could sleep was in the day time sitting upright in my chair.

I brought all of this to the attention of my doctor and he prescribed a "sleep study".  If you're not familiar, a sleep study consists of you sleeping in front of people with about 100 wires attached to your head, chest, wrist etc to log your sleep cycles.  

The first one was "inconclusive" and another one had to be performed.  I scheduled another and went through the thing, then my insurance company was not going to pay for it.  My wife and I spent months arguing with insurance companies to get this paid for.  After all, it was not my decision to go have another one, and since we were trying to diagnose and treat a problem.... and this was the essential test in determining what my deal was.

Each test was $3000 or so, so not exactly pocket change.  Insurance covered about 80% still leaving us with a nice chunk.  (We were raising 2 kids at the time.)

All of that leads me to this.  2 teenage boys = trips to the emergency room.  We had an accident rider on our policy for a while.  Literally a God Send....  After about 3 years, that rider just disappeared.  We've got a bit of AFLAC now that helps, but it wasn't as nifty as that accident rider.

If you had to guess, how much would you say frivolous law suits drive the cost of medical care?  We've all heard the stories.....
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Avatar universal
It depends on whose numbers you believe. I tend to think it's significantly less than than the AMA and the republicans would have you believe. But I realize this is a very contentious issue.

Here is a fairly recent article from Medscape that I have on file.

Malpractice Payments Still Declining, Says Disputed Study

{A Public Citizen study released this week states that the number of malpractice payments — jury awards and settlements alike — declined for the seventh consecutive year in 2010, based on its analysis of newly released NPDB data. That number of payments (10,195) also is the lowest since 1991, the first full year for which NPDB tracked these payments.

The total dollar value of payments also declined for the seventh straight year, decreasing to $3.35 billion in 2010. After adjusting for inflation, that total is the lowest in the history of the NPDB, according to Public Citizen. The average malpractice payment rose 1.6% in 2010 to $328,303. However, it represents the lowest average payment since 2002 when the figures are adjusted for inflation.

The Public Citizen analysis asserts that malpractice litigation is not the cost-driver in healthcare that some political conservatives depict it to be. Between 2000 and 2010, malpractice payments fell 11.9%, whereas healthcare spending rose 90% (both in terms of unadjusted dollars), according to the study. Such payments amounted to only 0.13% of healthcare costs in 2010, which is the lowest percentage in the NPDB's history.

Likewise, the numbers run contrary to the notion that medical malpractice suits are largely frivolous, according to Public Citizen. Of the 10,195 payments in 2010, almost 75% were for either death or some sort of significant or major injury, including quadriplegia, as opposed to insignificant or minor injuries or emotional injuries only....


Here is another also from Medscape.

Malpractice Litigation, Defensive Medicine Cost Less Than Thought

"September 7, 2010 — Many physicians and conservative politicians contend that to curb the rising cost of healthcare, the United States needs bold medical liability reform as opposed to the healthcare reform enacted by Congress this year. Discourage frivolous suits, eliminate jackpot judgments, and defensive medicine and all its expensive overtesting and overtreating will wane, they say.

However, the potential of tort reform to control healthcare costs comes under question in a study published in the September issue of the journal Health Affairs. It puts the cost of malpractice litigation and defensive medicine combined at $55.6 billion annually in 2008 dollars, or 2.4% of total healthcare spending. In contrast, a 2007 study by the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis estimated that the annual cost of defensive medicine alone was between $100 billion and $178 billion in 2005, while a 2006 study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers reported that the cost of malpractice insurance and defensive medicine topped $200 billion.

Lead author Michelle Mello, JD, PhD, a professor of law and public health at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, and coauthors write that $55.6 billion is not a trivial amount, but "less than some imaginative estimates put forward in the health reform debate, and it represents a small fraction of total health care spending."

Of the $55.6 billion, $45.6 billion is due to defensive medicine, mostly in the form of hospital as opposed to physician services. Settlements and court judgments chalk up $5.72 billion, administrative costs such as legal fees contribute another $4.1 billion, while the value of lost clinician time is $200 million. The quality of the evidence supporting these estimates range from moderate to good, except for defensive medicine, where the quality of evidence is low.

"Reliable estimates of its cost," the authors write, "are notoriously difficult to obtain.".....}

See:  http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/728128?src=mp&spon=29

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Avatar universal
Thanks Mike.... I'll need some time this afternoon to read those links.
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Avatar universal
I found this one which was filed under "Tort Reform" and it leans right -= also from Medscape.

Tort Reform Bill Would Reduce Deficit by $40 Billion

"March 11, 2011 — A House bill that caps noneconomic damages in malpractice cases at $250,000 and enacts other reforms to curb frivolous lawsuits against clinicians would reduce the federal deficit by $40 billion from 2011 to 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The bill, called the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011, would lower premiums for malpractice insurance and reduce the number of "defensive medicine" services ordered by clinicians to avoid getting sued, the CBO stated in an analysis released yesterday. As a result of these lower costs, direct federal spending on healthcare would decrease by $34 billion over 10 years.

In addition, lower costs on the provider side would cause premiums for private health insurance to fall, which would allow employers to increase taxable wages for employees. That, in turn, would boost federal tax revenue by roughly $6 billion....."


One more:

CBO Report Raises Estimate of Savings From Medical Malpractice Reform

"October 12, 2009 — Medical-liability reforms such as capping noneconomic damages and tightening the statute of limitation for filing a suit would trim $54 billion from the federal deficit over 10 years, largely by curbing defensive medicine, according to a report released Friday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Overall, tort reform would reduce the nation's healthcare spending by 0.5%, the report stated. Forty percent of these savings would stem from lower malpractice insurance premiums for providers. The rest of the savings would result from lower use of healthcare services, as providers would order fewer tests and procedures intended simply to avoid a lawsuit.

The CBO estimate of tort reform's potential to reduce the deficit is roughly 10 times greater than what it projected last December (a reduction of $54 billion instead of $5.6 billion). At that time, the agency said that evidence about the extent of defensive medicine — and how tort reform could reduce it — was murky. However, more recent research suggests that "lowering the cost of medical malpractice tends to reduce the use of health care services," according to the latest CBO report....."


By the way Brice, I subscribe to www.medscape.com so that's why these are all Medscape articles.

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