If you really want to cut the cost of healthcare, one way you can go about it is to keep the lawyers out of it. Doctors have to pay a great deal for malpractice insurance. Let me restate that. We who visit doctors pay a great deal for malpractice insurance. It is a cost of business for doctors and we pay every bit of that cost.
Well, that is not totally true. Most of us don’t pay the doctor. We pay insurance companies and the insurance companies pay the doctor. Regardless of how many hands it goes through, it is our dime that pays for that doctor to keep his practice. Even if the cost is paid by an employer, it is part of our pay package. In a way, when the payment is made through other means, it is worse. By isolating us from the knowledge of the cost, we remain ignorant of just how much is paid for that visit to the doctor because we have sniffles.
It wouldn’t be so bad, but in most malpractice lawsuits, the doctor is not even at fault. However, the insurance company usually settles to avoid paying legal fees as well as the off chance that the jury improperly awards the case to the plaintiff. Let us face it. Paying ten-thousand for sure appears better than possibly paying ten-million. So the lawyer gets forty percent of ten-thousand, four thousand for simply threatening to sue.
When it happens in small numbers, it isn’t any big thing. However, there are lawyers that make their fortunes making such lawsuits, even though they know that they would lose the suit should it go to trial. So you and I pay no-good-bums to sue good doctors without good cause.
If the lawsuits were not permitted, thousands of lawyers would have to find another line of work and the price of healthcare would plummet.
Unfortunately, that is not all of it. Everyone knows about defensive medicine. There are many doctors that order tests that serve no purpose other than to keep out of court.
Then there are the medicines. A pharmacology company spends money and years to come up with a new drug that serves a very important purpose. Then, after all the testing and all, they finally release the drug so that they can start realizing a profit. Then, one week later, some lawyer takes the company to court in hopes of getting a big settlement out of it.
It happens all the time. One day I hear of a new drug that really helps and within a week, the advertisement comes on TV, “If you took (whatever the drug is) and suffered (whatever the problem is) then contact (whoever the lawyer is) and we will make you a millionaire. (And, by the way, we will become a billionaire. And, by the way, we will drive the cost of meds up roughly thirty to forty percent.)
Lest you get the wrong idea, I am not advocating completely taking the lawyers out of medicine. It would be a horrible idea. However, we really need to take a long hard look at our tort system. Indeed, it would be a good idea to look at it in general, not just the world of medicine. Everything we buy includes legal fees. Worse, there are some products that never make it to the market because of lawyers.
My suggestion is that the lawyers should be held to a higher standard. I don’t know how it would be, but lawyers who do such things should have their licenses pulled and they should be fined. If we could figure out a way to do it, the cost of medicine, as well as other things, would immediately drop. Not only that; I wouldn’t have to listen to those ridiculous commercials. TV and radio would have to find a replacement for their programming.
Unfortunately, I don’t hold out much hope for anything to be done. The lawyers make the laws. They benefit from them. I doubt that they will do anything that will decrease their fortunes.