NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Doctors on Strike

March 3, 2003

Recently, there have been numerous press stories about doctors striking to protest high medical malpractice premiums. This is just the most obvious evidence that something is fundamentally wrong with the nation's tort liability system. A number of reports suggest that the cost is growing out of control, imposing a de facto tax on all Americans that is slowing economic growth and investment, while doing little for those suffering real harm.

According to a new study by Tillinghast-Towers Perrin:

  • The total cost of the U.S. tort system reached $205.4 billion in 2001, an increase of 14.3 percent over the previous year -- far faster than the rate of economic growth.
  • This is like a tax of 2 percent on everything in the American economy that takes $721 per year out of the pockets of every citizen.
  • This cost is paid in the form of bankrupt companies, reduced investment and jobs, higher prices for medical insurance and many other goods and services.

Of course, any civilized society has to have a means of compensating victims of personal injuries resulting from medical mistakes, harmful products and such. But the cost of compensating people for these problems has been going up rapidly without any evidence that the underlying causes are increasing.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, "Doctors on Strike," National Center for Policy Analysis, March 3, 2003.


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