So far in 2009, almost 300,000 Floridians have lost their health insurance, along with their jobs. The link between health coverage and the rise in unemployment is important, because nearly two-thirds of people under the age of 65 get health coverage through their employment, or the employment of a spouse. Florida ranks third in the nation, among working age-adults, in the number of people who have lost their health insurance since January 2009, behind only California and Texas.
Several options are available to those who become unemployed, including COBRA, where you pay to extend current health coverage, but oftentimes individuals do not have the necessary financial means. However, the current trend of citing tort reform as a means to reduce health insurance costs are misplaced. During a time when more and more individuals are needing to purchase insurance on their own, it might be easy for some to point the finger at the alleged “evil” of medical malpractice lawsuits. Much has been proposed about the potential reduction in insurance costs if awards in medical malpractice cases were capped, or eliminated altogether. What individuals don’t realize is that in actuality, little to no savings in premiums have resulted from current attempts at tort reform. In fact, insurance companies in Florida like Aetna, have stated that tort reform has produced little or no savings in insurance rates in Florida, due in part to lawsuits only making up a tiny fraction of the overall healthcare spending in the United States each year. Reducing costs needs to come from within the system, starting with reducing the myriad of preventable medical errors committed by the small percentage of bad apple physicians each year.