Effects of Texas Tort Reform
December 12, 2003
Pregnant women in Texas now have a better chance of finding an obstetrician, says the Wall Street Journal, because "tort reform is beginning to lower costs for doctors who want to practice medicine in the Lone Star State." Earlier this year Texans passed a constitutional amendment and the legislature enacted a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages.
These reforms are bringing medical-malpractice insurance rates back down from the stratosphere, according to the Journal.
- The state's largest "med-mal" insurer will lower rates by 12 percent beginning January 1 -- a boon to the 42 percent of Texas doctors insured by the Texas Medical Liability Trust.
- Another insurer, the Doctors Company, says it won't raise rates for Texas doctors, thanks to the caps.
- Some of the insurers that left the state are discussing a return.
The Texas experience suggests that caps can affect insurance rates. A recent General Accounting Office study shows that doctors pay lower medical malpractice premiums in states with caps on noneconomic damages.
At least 150 of Texas' 254 counties are without an obstetrician. But the shortage is worse in states like Pennsylvania that have not yet adopted reforms.
Source: Editorial, "Welcome Back, Docs," Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2003.
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