/ Blog/ Rand Study: Affordable Care Act to Increase Medical Malpractice Awards
A recent study by the Rand Corporation on the effects of the Affordable Care Act had some good news/bad news attached to it. The good news is that worker’s compensation claims will decline sharply because fewer people will claim their injuries were caused on the job since they will be covered by health insurance under Obamacare. The bad news is that medical malpractice claims will increase for much the same reason by 2016 when the law is scheduled to be fully implemented.
The results are based only on partial data, but according to the study medical malpractice claims will rise by $120 million per year. This is based on the theory that if the Affordable Care Act grants more people with health insurance, they will be more likely to seek medical attention for ailments and injuries than if they did not have insurance. Having done so they will be more likely to experience bad outcomes due to medical malpractice. Hence they will be more likely to seek compensation in the court system. A spokesperson for Rand cautioned that the results of the study are only preliminary and will require more research to bring clarity.
How these findings will affect the ongoing debate over medical malpractice law is uncertain. $120 million is a significant amount of money and will no doubt add to the arguments offered by doctors and other health care providers that medical malpractice awards constitute an onerous burden, increasing health care costs and driving doctors out of the health care profession. Trial lawyers and other patient advocates counter that a system of medical malpractice litigation is necessary to police medical errors and to ensure they occur as infrequently as possible.
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