Hawaii’s residents and tourists are facing a shortage of physicians across the state, which puts everyone’s health at risk. Physicians are leaving Hawaii, retiring early, or no longer providing high-risk, but life-saving treatments due in large part to the risk of being sued and high medical malpractice insurance premiums, low reimbursements from public and private health insurers, and the high cost of living.
States such as Texas, California, Alaska, Idaho and others have enacted common-sense “Medical Liability Reform” or “tort reform”. Reforms include establishing reasonable limits on arbitrary, non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits (injured parties would still receive all economic damages such as present and future cost of care, lost wages, etc); caps on attorneys’ fees to give a greater share of settlement money to injured patients; and ensuring that a defendant is liable for only his/her portion of fault.
This type of medical liability reform has been shown to lower the incidence of defensive medicine – ordering tests that are unnecessary for fear of being sued, reduce malpractice insurance premiums, and make those states more attractive to physicians. It is one of the critical solutions that will help Hawaii retain and recruit a physician workforce. It costs taxpayers nothing, while saving government dollars and reducing health care costs overall.
Are you a patient who has experienced the access to health care shortage in Hawaii? Contact Save Our Doctors – a Hawaii consumer group who aims to end Hawaii’s physician shortage.