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Obamacare's potential effects on medical malpractice

It seems like everywhere one turns, there is more news about Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. Many New Jersey residents likely have concerns about the effects the ACA will have on their health insurance or their healthcare in general. When it comes to medical malpractice, few people want to think about what could go wrong while under a doctor's care. Still, it's important to know how changing laws can potentially affect a patient's care.

A recent media report revealed that medical malpractice insurance premiums have remained stable despite the ups and downs of health insurance for the general population. Per data from the 2016 Medical Liability Monitor Annual Rate Survey, medical malpractice premiums have actually been flat for a few years and have only experienced a 0.1 percent cumulative drop since last year. One of the reasons why malpractice rates aren't rising may be due to the coming-together of various health systems - as larger entities they typically have more leverage.

Interestingly, so far the ACA hasn't seemed to have much of an impact on the cost of malpractice insurance premiums. How might the ACA affect malpractice in general? With people who have "pent-up" medical issues suddenly being able to seek care, physicians may be more susceptible to making a misdiagnosis. This, in turn, could affect malpractice premium costs. On the other hand, the more widespread use of electronic medical records may streamline communication about a patient's past, present and future treatment, making the provision of care safer for everyone.

As the ACA continues to have an impact on the residents of New Jersey, its full effect remains to be seen. Those who have been affected by medical negligencemay want to talk with a licensed attorney in order to understand their rights before the law as well as their legal options.

Source: Forbes, "Doctor malpractice premiums remain flat amid Obamacare 'tumult'," Oct. 14, 2016

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