The medical malpractice “reform” debates continues to rage at both the state and national levels. The discourse has become so stale that it is hard to have any honest debate on the issue without entrenched groups resorting to their favorite talking about why changes to the legal system should or should not be made. To be fair, the typical Chicago medical malpractice attorney is likely just as guilty as those on the other side of repeating the same positions over and over again. It is hard to move beyond these common refrains and into the heart of the issue.
However, one way to break new ground is to look at how the insiders of the debate are talking amongst themselves about the issues. For example, our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers believe that there is a disconnect between the points made by insurance companies in public when seeking tort reform and the points made between insurers when talking about the success of their business. In public those supporting changes to the civil justice system explain that medical malpractice insurance continues to rise. That rise, they claim, cannot be controlled by the insurance companies, because otherwise they would essentially become an unprofitable and unsustainable businesses.
Yet, that rhetoric is much different in the latest issue of the Medical Liability Monitor which includes the 2011 Annual Rate Survey amongst medical malpractice insurers. The survey explains that the business and profits for these companies was, in their words, “stupendously good” over the last five years. In addition, the report explains that the overall rate paid by doctors has fallen each of the last five years. Therefore, even while rate decreases the insurers had some of their best years ever from a financial perspective. Of course, this flies right in the face of claims made by these very same insurers in public depicting financial devastation caused by the skyrocketing premiums, continuous claims being filed, and minimal profits for the insurance companies. Clearly these industries are presenting one side of things when they are working to strip medical victims of their rights and presenting a totally different picture when they are talking amongst themselves about the reality of the situation.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers know that in reality, insurance premium rates for medical professionals has actually decreased on average sixteen percent over the last five years. Also, a closer look at the survey reveals that there is little connection between the insurance premium rates and medical malpractice caps. In other words, some of the states with no caps on damages have the lowest average premiums, while states that have caps of damages have higher premiums.
On top of that, the insurance industry employees admit that medical malpractice claims have actually been decreasing over the past seven years at least and potentially longer. The loud public claims about an “epidemic” of medical malpractice lawsuits are thus better viewed as a successful scare tactic. So many of the claims made in public are simply myths propagated by those seeking to place caps on damage claims and enact other changes
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