A new study that will appear in the May/June issue of the journal Health Affairs debunking the claims of the American Medical Association (AMA) and malpractice pundits in Washington that high malpractice insurance premiums are driving doctors out of business.
The study reveals that medical malpractice rate have actually declined. Based on year 2000 dollars, mean malpractice premiums increased from $5,934 in 1970 to $20,106 in 1986, and then declined to $15,478 in 1996. Premiums rose from 1996 until the AMA discontinued the surveys in 2000, when mean premiums were $18,400, still lower than 1986, the study said.
However, the study conceded that when you look at percentage of total practice expenses, premiums haven’t changed that much. In 1970, they were 6% of expenses. They then rose to 11% in 1986, dropped to 6% in 1996, and rose slightly to 7% in 2000.
Nevertheless, the Chambers of commerce and other groups who want to limit the public’s access to the courts will continue to spend millions of dollars each year to convince ordinary citizens that their is a lawsuit crisis in this country.