High deductibles linked to malpractice claims

One potential negative repercussion of having health insurance is that you might have prohibitively high deductibles. If patients can’t afford to access the treatment and care that they need for their conditions, their conditions could deteriorate.

It’s even possible that high deductibles could increase the malpractice rates. Consider that when premiums rise and deductibles are high, sometimes patients delay seeking medical attention for their health conditions. With many diseases, early diagnoses and prompt, aggressive treatment are key to survival rates.

Below are some potential ways that a malpractice event could stem, in part, from overly high deductible rates.

  • If there is a problem with the patient’s ability to pay, physicians can delay ordering expensive diagnostic procedures, causing certain conditions to become life-threatening.
  • A pregnant woman delays prenatal care to save money, causing an obstetrician to miss early signs of fetal abnormalities or distress.
  • Follow-up care can be omitted, increasing the risk of infections and other complications.

Not all malpractice cases will have roots in high health insurance deductibles. But it does make sense to have a frank discussion with your physician about your financial situation and insurance coverage if there is a potential problem. Doctors can sometimes help patients find ways around some charges, like agreeing to waive or reduce their fees, or providing referrals to a facility that provides diagnostic testing on a sliding scale basis.

The bottom line is that all patients share responsibility for their own medical health. Making sure that the lines of communication remain open between you and your medical providers can keep a situation from deteriorating rapidly and becoming life-threatening.

Remember that it is always better to avoid a malpractice event than to have to turn to the courts for one to be satisfactorily resolved.

Source: Huffington Post, “Can Increased Health Insurance Deductibles Lead to Medical Malpractice?,” Stephanie R. Caudle, March 15, 2016