There is so much information out these days on the health care reform issue that it is difficult to distinguish what is truth from what is exaggeration, politically motivated or just plain fiction. Every news station, all the editorial pages of newspapers and current events magazines are full of information about this issue. In this issue, there are definitely more than two sides of the coin.
Each group has legitimate reasons why the expenses have gone up. Doctors claim their insurance has gone through the roof and that they must spend so much on their own insurance which they pass on to their patients. They also are practicing more and more “defensive” medicine, ordering tests and procedures that are geared mainly toward protecting themselves from lawsuits. This is a definite cause for the increased costs of health care.
Medical Malpractice vs. Medical Negligence
There are definitely differences in medical negligence and medical malpractice. However, these two have come to mean the same thing because the outcomes of both are the same. Medical malpractice is a situation wherein a doctor does damage to a patient by a mistake. Actually performing the wrong treatment or performing the right treatment badly results in medical malpractice claims. Medical negligence, strictly defined, is more of a lack of action than a blatant one. It happens when a doctor does not perform a certain procedure or when he misses a symptom and does not treat correctly.
Whichever action is taken or not taken, many have said that this is the reason insurance rates have gone up. So many people are suing doctors, they are forced to carry huge insurance policies and do much more work than necessary for future protection against claims of medical malpractice or medical negligence.
Malpractice Caps and their effect on Health Care Premiums
There is, however, quite a bit of evidence that these factors have not contributed to the rise in health care rates. It is becoming known, after many organizations are looking at the bottom line numbers of many insurance companies, that premiums are rising because of economic factors unrelated to medicine.
These factors are lowered interest rates and returns on investments. Insurance companies make a large portion of their profits in the stock market and by managing the large sums of money they receive in premiums. When the marketplace does not produce as high a return as it used to, the insurers begin to raise premiums to cover the shortfall. This is their business, it ebbs and flows just like all others.