In your Nov. 28 issue's Letters to the Editor Mr. Pollack's rebuttal is revealing. I must point out that my occupation is moot. My connection to insurance is primarily mathematical. Such efforts at linkage, trying to tap into subliminal misunderstandings, are intellectually rather offensive. I am not an advocate (or employee) of the insurance industry, merely an advocate for an intelligent dialogue.
Insurance companies are not concerned about the overall size of awards. They will simply observe a trend and price accordingly. Insurance companies react to problems, they rarely create them. The concern that insurance companies sometimes unfairly dispute legitimate claims is a red herring within the context of this debate, which is about why is medical inflation so absurdly high, and it is not about how we can make medical inflation and thus medical insurance even higher.
To help the self-confessed confused author - high medical malpractice awards lead to higher professional liability insurance prices. The medical community must then pass on these additional costs (trends) to the consumer. The consumer bills their health carrier who must now increase their premiums.
I stand by my suspicion that this case was more of a bad outcome than negligence. I am now admonished to accept the verdict - that is ridiculous. Surely it is self evident that I am questioning the system. A system that makes such awards is wrong. By way of example, DNA has proven the innocence of people on death row - the system was wrong, it was science and unfettered logic that saved the day. Blind adherence to the system is not an option.
The author's efforts at discussing statistics are without merit. Professional liability insurance costs have gone through the roof because of claim history, to argue otherwise is daft.
To suggest that insurance companies cry foul at times of stock depreciation is facile since few insurance carriers have more than 10 percent of their portfolios in stocks.
To suggest that tort reform would have a significant long-term impact on insurer profitability is worse than facile; it demonstrates a lack of understanding of basic economics. The objective of tort reform is to stabilize and reduce prices.
Yes, insurance companies have lobbyists etc. Yes this is wrong, but not for the reasons named by the author. These efforts are outweighed by the efforts of the trial lawyers to appease their wallets, not shareholders. Thus the argument raised by the author is misleading. Ironically the directors and officers of insurance companies might well get sued if they did not attempt to lobby or sue. The feeding frenzy goes on.
Anyone may buy or form an insurance company. If it is so easy to profit, then that is the answer. Lawyers have ample funds.
It appears that my original thoughts are being overtaken by events and better solutions are imminent. These solutions can be found in the Nov. 20 edition of The New York Times. Therein the National Academy of Sciences submitted a report addressing the crisis in healthcare. In short, one key solution is a no fault system similar to Workers Compensation. No fault is a euphemism for mitigating lawyer involvement. Would insurance companies be happy with these ideas? I do not know and I do not really care. It would work for society.
Personal injury lawyers do have a role in society. The author did his colleagues a disservice by his off tangent and mathematically challenged response. A better response could have been made. Such response must acknowledge the obvious excesses in the existing system, and the resulting loss of individual freedoms and the destructive ravages of absurd medical inflation. Any proper response must desist from the playing the shallow populist sound bite type approach and must desist from attempting to snatch ambiguity from the jaws of clarity.