[PLUG-TALK] Malpractice (was Prescription Drugs)

AthlonRob AthlonRob at axpr.net
Mon Sep 6 09:03:32 PDT 2004

On Mon, 2004-09-06 at 04:03 -0700, Russell Senior wrote:
> >>>>> "Keith" == Keith Lofstrom <keithl at kl-ic.com> writes:
> Keith> When you reward "victims", you create more victims.  
> I think the word here is "compensate" rather than "reward".  I don't
> think you'll find many people getting in line to have their operation
> botched for the sake of any reward.

I think you overestimate people.  Regardless, however, a compensation
*is* a reward.  A reward need not be for something voluntary.

> Keith> Yes, malpractice is a small part of total health care spending.
> Keith> So is doctor compensation; perhaps 5% to 10%.  
> Okay, then don't blame lawyers for driving up health care costs.

Certainly not all of it; but a significant part seems to be driven by
lawyers, doesn't it?  They, as a whole, have driven the US to be very
much a sue-happy country.  Spill your coffee from McDonalds?  Sue those
bastards!  Wherever there are deep pockets, there are lawyers figuring
out how to dig in, via lawsuits.

> Maybe all the direct responsibility gets concentrated on the
> physicians, but the normal thing to do in these cases is treat it as a
> cost of doing business and build it into your rates.  If the physician
> isn't being compensated adequately to cover their costs then they
> should charge more.

And they often do, directly leading to the rising cost of healthcare.
That's the problem, isn't it?  That's what we're discussing in the first
place, isn't it?  Health care costs going up... the causes and possible
solutions.  You're looking at the symptom and scratching your head,
Keith is looking at the cause and offering his thoughts on potential

> Or if the malpractice insurance rates are
> unreasonable, then get together with colleagues and form your own risk
> pool.  Business types will always want you to be their slave.  Don't
> let them.  This is normal piece-of-the-pie tug-of-war.  Physicians are
> getting screwed.  Boo-hoo.  So are lots of people.  But don't blame
> the people who _really_ get screwed.  

I think that's easier said than done.  Let's say you get 10 doctors
together and one gets hit with a $1M lawsuit.  That's $100K per doctor.
I don't think Keith or his wife could afford to shell out $100K.

Insurance is about limiting the risks... it's a bigger safety net than
most individuals can provide on their own or with colleagues they know.

> Blame the people doing the
> screwing.  Blame the people that constructed the system by which the
> only compensation for medical errors is through malpractice claims.
> If you think it is the fault of dumb juries, support education of
> critical thinking skills so jury pools aren't filled with dumb people.
> If you think it is the fault of juries filled with poor people who
> sympathize with the poor patient, support policies that eliminate
> poorness.  Don't "mask the symptom" by legislatively waving your hand
> and pretending medical errors and their consequences don't exist
> anymore.

I think the idea, here, is to move medical malpractice lawsuits out of
the 'common' category and in to the 'rare' category, which is the same
category as actual malpractice.  I think forcing all of America to take
courses on critical thinking to make everybody seem smarter is perhaps a
bit of a crazy solution.  To ensure everybody has enough money to not be
considered poor would probably require communism.  I don't think we want
to go there.

> But if the total fraction of health care costs due to malpractice is
> just 2%, and they are flat or declining, then something *else* is
> responsible for 20% a year medical insurance inflation... like looting
> by the insurance companies, excessive gatekeeping costs, etc.
> Medical malpractice may very well be a significant and important issue
> to physicians, but as a health care cost it is a red-herring, waved
> around by the Republicans to distract voters and to enable continued
> looting.

Oh, sure, it's a great Republican conspiracy to steal bread out of the
mouthes of children.  Damn, somebody let the secret out!!  Yeah, we're
trying our best to ensure as many people (especially non-Republicans and
children) as possible go without healthcare at all, all in the great
ploy to ensure we're all (us Republicans) rich.

I hope you don't foil our plan.

Kerry's socialism policy seems, to me, like it would fuck up the
nation's healthcare system about as much as possible.  Socialized
medicine doesn't work... as Keith stated, putting healthcare within the
direct control of politicians is a very messed up idea.

Generally speaking (not just in regards to the rising costs of insurance
and medicine) I think as bad as things are under President Bush, as much
as you could blame it *on* Bush... Kerry's administration would make it
*far* worse.  Total up the cost of all his ideas and programs for
socializing America and guess what your income tax would be like in
2008.  I wonder what reducing the disposable income of Americans would
do for the economy.  Guess how difficult it would be to get in and see a
doctor when you're sick.  How's that going to benefit healthcare, in
general?  Iraq, I fear, would end up in a worse shape than it was before
we went in, after Kerry pulls the US out.

Naw, I'm not voting for Kerry, especially not to reduce the cost of
medical care.

Rob                                |  If not safe,
   Jabber: athlonrob at axpr.net   |    one can never be free.

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