New study: Tort reform has not reduced health care costs in Texas

A new study found no evidence that health care costs in Texas dipped after a 2003 constitutional amendment limited payouts in medical malpractice lawsuits, despite claims made to voters by some backers of tort reform.

Using Medicare costs is the wrong way to go since Medicare pays doctors only a small fraction of what they bill and these payouts are set by the government (Medicare). Therefore, doctors are not likely to reduce the amount they charge for their services and risk even lower compensation from Medicare. I’m not ready to call the Texas tort reform a failure until I see it’s effects based on private insurance and not Medicare.

Jon Opelt, executive director of Texas Alliance for Patient Access, told American-Statesman’s Mary Ann Roser that tort reform can be credited for bringing nearly 5,000 more doctors to Texas than can be accounted for by population growth. Another study by Silver’s group, as yet unpublished, challenges those claims, Roser reported. The number of doctors who treat patients — Opelt’s figure, Silver says, includes administrators, teachers and physicians who don’t directly deal with patients — grew more slowly after tort reform than it did before.

Tort reform may have increased the number of doctors in two high-risk areas: obstetrics and emergency room medicine. The lack of obstetricians in South Texas, allegedly driven out by generous jury awards that caused astronomical insurance rates in that part of the state, was a major argument used to win tort reform, though the number of obstetricians in other parts of the state appeared unrelated to insurance rates.

Could it be that the insurance companies don’t want to adjust their rates, accordingly, in order to make more money?

It’ not just the insurance companies… reduction in price comes about due to market pressure. With third-party payments, market pressure is very muted, so there is no incentive to reduce your price even if your costs have gone down (which is the dirst thing to find out!)

Some very good critiques of the study have already been mentioned.

But the biggest hasn’t been mentioned yet. Medical costs are on a non-stop upward spiral. The fact that tort reform hasn’t ‘lowered’ costs (even if such a thing were in evidence, which it so far isn’t as Medicare already pays below cost for most care) doesn’t mean it hasn’t been effective. It may simply have forestalled cost increases that would have resulted under the ‘do nothing’ alternative.

What puzzles me is why leftists are so enamored of lawsuit lawyers. Seems like odd bedfellows to me.

Another factor is inflation, it affects everything, why not health services?

Physicians driven by greed would certainly approve of tort reform. Why wouldn’t they. Not surprising that TX would receive an influx of doctors- it’s human nature I suppose.

I respect the doctors who see helping the needy as more important than maximizing their income.

What about physiscians driven by the need to make a living?

To make a living? Are you kidding me?

What kind of “living” are they after, I would say is the question. Doctors serving in inner-city hospitals have a NICE living. They aint’ struggling, that’s for sure.

Hey ringil…why don’t you become a doctor and see the millions of dollars many of them go into debt and the numerous hours they work for little pay as they work to become a doctor…before you start spouting abject nonsense.

You need to lay off the bombastic comentary, seriously.

I’d be happy to the moment you stop pitting people into groups and making rash generalizations. Not all doctors are Nip/Tuck bagillionares. Many are getting by paying off their massive student loans, also many doctors put in very long hours and for you to call that greedy because they are making a profit?

The reason a lot of costs go up is administrative…not doctors fees so if you want to assign greed then do it with the Administrators not the doctors.

To tell me to lay off the bombastic commentary is the pot calling the kettle black.

I’m speaking on the issue. You were targeting me. That’s the difference.

Saying “I disagree” is one thing but yu have a way with over-the-top attacks on forumites.

Making a living…I’m sure that’s what they’d like to call it. Truth is, there is often no rhyme or reason to setting charges for medical services. Having a bit of experience in the area, I can attest that it’s more of a ‘see what others are charging’ and then decide how much we can set our rates without freaking everyone out of their minds, approach…

To begin with, charges (in Texas at least) are already several multiples of Medicare’s allowed rate, so it would take a miracle (like lawsuits earning doctors money instead of costing them) for Medicare costs to come down due to tort reform.

Did anyone really think that people were going to be billed less because of decreased fear of lawsuits? I mean, seriously now…

Pot meet kettle. :thumbsup:

How many doctors do you know? Any?

Perhaps your over-the-top response towards someone telling you most doctors are just trying to make a living, invited you to have your statement attacked and that’s all it was. Nowhere was I directly attacking you, I was instead attacking your over-the-top statement that I found utterly ridiculous.

Doctors in aggragate (and related to the OP) versus reference of an individual.

So that’s a “0”?

Ever wonder what it costs to become one? Or the effort involved?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit