National Costs of the Medical Liability System
Posted: 11 Sep 2010
Date Written: September 1, 2010
This paper estimates the national costs of the medical liability system, including indemnity payments, administrative costs, defensive medicine costs, and lost clinician work time, synthesizing data from a variety of sources. Total costs are estimated at $55.6 billion in 2008, including $45.6 billion in defensive medicine costs, $5.7 billion in indemnity payments, and over $4 billion in administrative and other expenses. The quality of the evidence underlying the estimates is discussed. We conclude that although the liability system is costly in absolute terms, because it accounts for only a small proportion (2.4%) of total health care spending, medical liability expenditures cannot be the main, or even one of the most important, drivers of rising health care costs.
Keywords: malpractice, liability, medical, health care
JEL Classification: H51, I10, K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation