Essay on Health Care and Tort Reform

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Rising health care costs have caused a national crisis, and all agree we must embrace reform. President Obama has initiated his national health care plan in the hopes of decreasing some of the inflated costs. When attempting to resolve this issue, one must always address the root of the problem. A large portion of these inflationary costs stem from malpractice lawsuits, and so begins the debate for tort reform: legislation which would cut the costs of health care by reducing the risk of civil litigation and exposure to fraudulent claims (“What”). However, the real factor at hand and the real cause of the industry’s high costs does not come solely from the cost incurred from these lawsuits, but from over-expenditures on the part of…show more content…
The two most popular seem to be the capping of damages – limiting the rewards a victim of medical malpractice receives – and the limitation of a patient’s right to jury (Odom, “Health”). A number of other proposed actions exist, including procedural limitation on the ability to file claims and the idea called “loser pays” – forcing the loser of the case to pay for the other party’s costs in the trial. The practice of capping damages would reduce risk for doctors, as a lawsuit would no longer bankrupt them. Thus, they would not be forced to over-test and overspend. It would also create less incentive for patients to pursue claims they knew were undeserved (Odom). Many proponents of tort reform also advocate limiting patients’ rights to a trial by jury – specially designed “health courts” would preside over the cases instead (“Health”). Because of the trial by jury, as currently practiced in these cases, very often the actual reprimands and awards are subject to chance and the “sympathy vote” instead of facts. The same injury could grant a patient anywhere from $100,000 to $2 million (“Health”). The design of health courts would eliminate this subjectivity, and redress would be awarded in reasonable, consistent amounts. The two other actions mentioned, procedural limitations on the ability to file claims and the “loser pays” idea, would work by decreasing the incentive of a patient to file an unreasonable claim. It

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