Defensive Medicine and Disappearing Doctors?
Harvard University - Department of Health Policy & Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
Regulation, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 24-31, Fall 2005
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 8
Keywords: malpractice, premiums, physicians, insurance, medicine, doctors
JEL Classification: I1, K32, G22
Date posted: October 19, 2005