Can You Say “Demagoguery?”
On Monday, I posted about this:
Alabama is one of the prime offenders in a U.S. civil litigation system that costs $865 billion per year, 75 percent of which is wasted, two new studies say.
The $664 billion in excess costs for civil justice amounts to a tort tax of $7,848 on a four-person household, according to a study released in March by the Pacific Research Institute.
Generous Alabama juries and relatively few caps on the cash they award helps make Alabama the 10th worst tort system in the country, said Lawrence McQuillan, the principal author of the PRI study, “Jackpot Justice.” Dollar figures weren’t available from the rating, which used a ratio of jury awards to the size of the state’s economy. . . .
The study concluded that $201 billion per year is spent on legitimate civil cases.
But the cost of the $664 billion per year in excess is lost lives and jobs, higher prices and a lower standard of living, the study said.
“Defensive medicine,” unnecessary tests ordered by doctors to avoid lawsuits, costs $124 billion, the study said. Rising health care prices leave 3.4 million people without insurance, it said.
So what makes Alabama one of the worst offenders? How is Alabama causing “defensive medicine” and high insurance costs while simultaneously driving doctors out of the state? Well, today, the Alabama Law Weekly says this:
A state-by-state examination of medical malpractice claims paid in 2006, including the District of Columbia, shows that Alabama was tied for 50th for the number of claims paid out per 1,000 active, nonfederally employed physicians. The study was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Kaiser, a nonprofit health-policy research institute in California and Washington, D.C., reported that Alabama had a total of 41 medical malpractice claims paid, either through a judgment or settlement, and that number equated to 3.7 claims per 1,000 active, nonfederal physicians. Alabama’s number of claims per 1,000 physicians, which tied with Minnesota for the lowest figure in the nation, was well below the national average of 13.3 claims per 1,000 active, nonfederal physicians.
The Kaiser study also surveyed the claim amounts paid out last year. Alabama’s 41 claims paid resulted in a total payout of $15,867,500. That was an average payment of $387,012 per paid claim. Alabama’s average claims payment amount ranked 10th among the states, while the total dollars in paid claims amount ranked 38th nationally.
Out of who knows how many lawsuits, there were forty one total payouts. If that makes Alabama one of the leading causes of a medical malpractice crisis, I don’t think there’s much of a crisis.