Now that the Affordable Care Act is beginning to take effect, the question of how it could affect medical malpractice claims is on the table. According to a new study by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, the ACA will, among other things, increase medical malpractice claims by $120 million a year. The study looked at the ACA’s wide-ranging effects for the year 2016, when it will take full effect. The key findings of the study with regard to liability were:
- Patients might less frequently use liability insurance to obtain treatment for unrelated health problems that health insurance would otherwise treat.
- Liability payments could decrease in states that limit awards based on payments from collateral sources.
- In states that do not limit the collateral source effect, liability claims could increase if health insurance pays at the time the care is provided.
- Medicare rates, which form the basis for many liability payments, are reduced under the new reforms, and those reductions are likely to spill over into private rates.
- Insured individuals have more contacts with physicians, make more visits, and receive more procedures, so they are more likely than others to file medical malpractice claims.