NU Online News Service, Jan. 16, 2004, 5:51 p.m. EST – Cutting medical malpractice costs probably would not do much to cut the cost of health care in the United States, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office.[@@]

“Even large savings in premiums can have only a small direct impact on health care spending — private or governmental — because malpractice costs account for less than 2% of that spending,” Perry Beider and Stuart Hagen, two CBO researchers, write in the report.

The researchers note that patients file 15 malpractice claims for every 100 doctors every year, with about 5 of the claims leading to an insurance payment.

Although many claims do not lead to insurance payments, the average defense cost for a claim that did not lead to a payment was $22,000 in 2002, Beider and Hagen write.

The average defense cost was $39,000 for claims that did result in payments, the researchers write.

The CBO has posted the report on the Internet at ftp://ftp.cbo.gov/49xx/doc4968/01-08-MedicalMalpractice.pdf