While we all watch the U.S. Congress debate whether or not medical malpractice law needs to be reformed it is important to know the facts when it comes to the insurance industry. For example, do you know that Illinois’ largest malpractice insurer’s payouts have remained flat for over a decade? This has occurred despite the fact that premiums and profits have skyrocketed. Additionally, medical malpractice insurance rate increases between 2000 and 2005 has resulted in insurance company profits that have broken records and left executives with large compensation packages. This all leads to the ultimate fact that medical malpractice claims are not to blame for the increase in insurance rates. Instead we should all be looking to the business conditions and diminished returns on the insurance companies’ financial investments.
The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association’s White Paper has highlighted all of the myths and facts associated with medical malpractice in Illinois. In reality, court records have shown that medical malpractice lawsuits in Illinois were actually decreasing before the enactment of the damages caps in 2005. Claims, lawsuits and payouts all have been stable or declining. They are not to blame for the increases in doctors’ malpractice insurance rates. Also, claims and lawsuits have not caused an increase in the costs of health care. We need to start focusing on the facts rather than the propaganda. There needs to be true insurance reform that will focus on patient safety. This will be the best and most practical way to decrease insurance costs by reducing medical error.