AAI Reports on WSJ Online/Harris Med-Mal Poll

February 20, 2003

The Alliance of American Insurers (AAI) responded to the findings of a recent Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Healthcare Poll on medical malpractice insurance. The poll showed that a strong majority of Americans (58 percent) support legislative efforts to limit the costs of medical liability to reduce the costs of medical malpractice insurance.

Sarah Heidenreich, policy manager in the association’s property/casualty department, noted, “The Alliance is gratified that the Wall Street Journal Online/ Harris Interactive Poll shows that the majority of Americans support our members’ position that meaningful reform legislation is necessary to limit the costs of medical liability insurance.

“The poll’s results coincide with a recent Tillinghast-Towers Perrin study that shows legal costs (in all areas) have risen dramatically in the past couple of years, equaling an annual ‘tort tax’ of $721 per U.S. citizen.

“The findings of these two studies indicate that the American people know that the true culprit of the current medical liability crisis is litigation. Legal costs are on the rise and have contributed substantially to the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Awards for medical malpractice claims, particularly those for non-economic damages, have skyrocketed, adding to the cost of medical liability coverage.

“Consequently, the Alliance has advocated limits on non-economic damages to control these costs. The WSJ/Harris Poll shows that the American people agree. Fully 48 percent of respondents favored a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages. By reducing the costs of litigation and subsequent medical malpractice premiums along the lines of the Alliance’s suggested reforms, Americans can have a meaningful, long-term solution to the medical liability crisis.”

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