While President Obama’s team considers ways to lower the cost of health care and make it available for everyone, it’s time that We The People put our pencils and heads to the problem as well. At the end of 2008, Vice-President-Elect Joe Biden asked people to meet and talk and think and report back to him and his team. It was great to see the government looking for input. Here’s one possibility that may not have been presented to them.
It’s certainly arguable that Malpractice rates constitute the largest burden on the cost of health care insurance, but few would disagree that it’s a considerable factor. Tort Reforms help. When it comes down to it, though, it’s still the choice of the individual to go after the healthcare providers or not. A lawyer can suggest you have a case, but the individual still has to contract that lawyer’s services to file a law suit.
Most everyone would agree that the vast majority of physicians truly do want what’s best for their patients and intend to do good, not harm. But physicians and other healthcare providers are fallible. Accidents happen, mistakes occur, and let’s not forget that the physician isn’t the one who caused the illness in the first place, so it would be very much unfair to blame him for the results of your illness when you’d likely have gotten much worse without his intervention.
An insured person pays little heed to the redundancies of tests and other practices observed simply to ensure that the patient can’t sue you later. A self-pay (uninsured) person, on the other hand, cringes every time a lab test or x-ray is ordered, and may even pass out when he finds out how much a MRI or a nuclear tracer will cost. So what happens if the lawyers write up something that allows the patient to waive right to sue for anything besides gross and flagrant negligence, in exchange for the doctor forgoing any testing not deemed absolutely essential? What if we waive our right to sue in civil court for such damages?
Most of us trust our doctors enough to do that. Perhaps the physician could spend a little more time explaining your options thoroughly, so you’re able to make a wise, informed choice. Then, papers signed, the procedure could go ahead, with everyone feeling relieved. If the patient signed such a waiver, would that bring down the premiums? What do YOU say?