A recent study published in the public policy journal Health Affairs, Low Costs Of Defensive Medicine, Small Savings From Tort Reform, provides important information about the costs of medical malpractice litigation and defensive medicine in comparison to the total cost of U.S. health care. The study shows that the medical liability system, a vital means for holding health care professionals accountable to accepted standards, amounts to only 2.4 percent of American health care expenditures.
In light of Health and Human Services (HHS) data showing that the U.S. spent $7,681 per person in 2008 on health care, the study results suggest that only $185 of that amount goes toward malpractice insurance, "defensive" medical tests, legal costs and the verdicts and settlements paid to patients. Contrary to the negative attention that litigation received during the recent national health care dialogue, this figure seems surprisingly modest given what Americans pay for other hedges against risk, such as car, home and life insurance.
Learn more at Health Affairs.