Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Stevie Joe Solves Medical Malpractice Woes

One of my regular readers, apparently bored by my recent posts, has requested that I solve another of the world's problems much as I did when I offered my plan for peace in the Middle East, my plan to reform the tax code, and my plan to end the gay marriage debate. I know that I make solving these problems look easy, but it ain't. Even for Stevie Joe.

I've decided to tackle the issue of rising medical malpractice costs. As near as I can figure, there are three parties involved in about any malpractice suit. First, there is the insurance company. These are the guys making record profits while raising malpractice premiums without any corresponding increase in malpractice claims. Second, there is the doctor. This is the guy with the $120,000 Mercedes and trophy wife. He was too busy thinking about his golf game to realize that he was cutting the wrong leg off of some poor slob. Third, we have the poor slob. He's the guy who is going to be missing two legs instead of one.

So, who is to blame for the problem? Well, according to the politicians, it's the poor slob. Of course, he can't pony up the same level of campaign contributions as the other two.

The other night at Smitty's tap, the solution to this problem became apparent. Dickie Jensen and Junior had just returned from taking a leak in the alley (if you had ever used the bathroom at Smitty's, you would understand). The two of them had found a Playboy magazine back there and were now arguing over who was going to take it home. Like a parent trying to get two little kids to stop fighting, I had to come up with a solution.

Since one could argue that they each owned one-half of the Playboy, it made sense for one to buy out the other's interest. I suggested that they come up with a price, and I would flip a coin. The winner of the coin flip would get the Playboy and pay the other for his share. Since the flip could go either way, they had to agree on a price that would be fair no matter who got the magazine and who got the dough.

So, if we apply this model to malpractice suits, we can avoid court altogether if the insurance company offers the poor slob a fair sum of money. The amount will be determined to be fair when one of the insurance company execs agrees to the same deal. So, if they offer the poor slob a million bucks for losing a leg, one of the execs has to be willing to have a leg cut off for the million bucks. Fair, right? What price would you accept to have your leg cut off?

Now, we wouldn't necessarily have to actually cut off the legs of all of the insurance execs, but if someone wanted to pay the money out of their own pocket, they'd have to do it. That would make sure the settlement offers were fair, and it might even cause them to stop insuring the bad doctors. Best of all, we could keep the whole thing out of the courts. Sounds win-win to me.

You're welcome,
Stevie Joe Parker

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