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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

U.S. Healthcare Costs: It's not the lawsuits.

MSNBC reports today on a study sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund, which found that, compared to European countries and other industrialized nations,

[Americans] have less access to most health services and higher costs associated with malpractice insurance have only a marginal effect on overall health spending.

Regarding those lawsuits and their "high awards":

Average awards lower in U.S.
Americans do file more lawsuits, Anderson’s team reported. ”The United States had 50 percent more malpractice claims filed per 1,000 population than the United Kingdom and Australia, and 350 percent more than Canada,” they wrote.

“Two-thirds of the U.S. claims were dropped, dismissed or found in favor of the defendant.”

The average payout was $265,000, lower than the average award in Britain or Canada, they found.

Congress is working on bills that would limit malpractice claims.

Doctors say skyrocketing insurance premiums are driving them out of business while insurers blame big awards and frivolous lawsuits.

The Senate has repeatedly taken up, but failed to pass, legislation that would limit damages, usually to $250,000 per claim. Similar legislation has passed the House.

In 2002 Anderson and colleagues reported that Americans spent $5,267 per capita for health care, $1,821 more than the next-highest spender, Switzerland.

Related Links:

Don't blame lawsuits for rising health costs: Study finds high price of services, drugs account for steep expenses - MSNBC story

Commonwealth Fund home page

Health Spending in the United States and the Rest of the Industrialized World - discussion at The Commonwealth Fund, which sponsored the study; links to the study report.

The study, as reported in Health Affairs. (link to abstract; subscription required for full article). For those with access to a good library that has a subscription to Health Affairs, here's the citation:

Health Spending In The United States And The Rest Of The Industrialized World
Anderson et al. Health Affairs.2005; 24: 903-914.

Totally OT -- do you know what's up with www.lightupthedarkness.org? The page can't be accessed, and the e-mail address I had for Ron Chusid doesn't work. I hope they're just doing routine maintenance and that they'll be back up soon.

-- Noisy Democrat
Hi ND,

Sorry to take so long to post a reply. Anyway, if you've been to the JKG at DU then you know the answer by now.

Hopefully things will settle down soon...
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