Defensive Medicine and Disappearing Doctors?

8 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2005  

Katherine Baicker

Harvard University - Department of Health Policy & Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Amitabh Chandra

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

There is a great deal of public debate about potential reforms of the malpractice system. A closer look at available data suggests that some of the rhetoric surrounding this debate may be misleading. First, increases in malpractice payments do not seem to be the driving force behind increases in premiums. Second, increases in malpractice costs do not seem to affect the overall size of the physician workforce, although they may affect some subsets of the physician population more severely. Third, we find evidence that the strongest effect of greater malpractice pressure is in increased use of imaging services, with somewhat smaller effects on the use of other discretionary, generally low-risk services such as physician visits and consultations, use of diagnostic tests, and minor procedures. We find little evidence of increased utilization of major surgical procedures.

Keywords: malpractice, premiums, physicians, insurance, medicine, doctors

JEL Classification: I1, K32, G22

Suggested Citation

Baicker, Katherine and Chandra, Amitabh, Defensive Medicine and Disappearing Doctors?. Regulation, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 24-31, Fall 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=820325

Katherine Baicker (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Health Policy & Management ( email )

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Amitabh Chandra

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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