Medical Malpractice Tort Reform Has No Impact on Healthcare Costs

Insurance industry advocates have always targeted tort reform in order to reduce healthcare costs. They’ve introduced, and in some states, passed legislation capping damages in medical malpractice cases. Yet, there is no evidence that such reform has actually reduced healthcare costs. Two studies have demonstrated that the relationship between tort reform and health costs is tenuous at best. The Clinical Advisor has published an article on this subject and the author writes, “To re-examine the impact of tort reform on defensive medicine and health-care spending, David A. Hyman, of the University of Illinois College of Law, and colleagues studied health-care spending trends in nine states — Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas — that adapted caps from 2002 to 2015. Specifically, the study looked at Medicare patients and examined whether Medicare Part B spending decreased after caps were enacted. Caps had no effect on hospital spending, but, surprisingly, caused an increase in spending on provider services.”

The second study concerned the impact of tort reform on the number of doctors practicing medicine in a given state. This is what the study concluded, “Proponents for reform also have claimed that medical tort reform will attract more doctors to the state, especially those who practice in high-risk specialties. In a second study, Hyman and colleagues looked to Texas, which had enacted tort reform in 2003 amid cries that providers were fleeing from Texas because of the liability climate. To investigate the impact of tort reform on Texas providers, the investigators reviewed the state’s number of high-risk clinicians before and after the 2003 reform. Physician supply was not stunted prior to reform, and it did not measurably improve after reform, found the researchers.”