NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Impact of Tort Reform on Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Premiums

Ronen Avraham, Leemore S. Dafny, Max M. Schanzenbach

NBER Working Paper No. 15371
Issued in September 2009
NBER Program(s):   HC   LE

We evaluate the effect of tort reform on employer-sponsored health insurance premiums by exploiting state-level variation in the timing of reforms. Using a dataset of healthplans representing over 10 million Americans annually between 1998 and 2006, we find that caps on non-economic damages, collateral source reform, and joint and several liability reform reduce premiums by 1 to 2 percent each. These reductions are concentrated in PPOs rather than HMOs, suggesting that can HMOs can reduce “defensive” healthcare costs even absent tort reform. The results are the first direct evidence that tort reform reduces healthcare costs in aggregate; prior research has focused on particular medical conditions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15371

Published: “The Impact of Tort Reform on Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Premiums,” with Ronen Avraham and Max Schanzenbach, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organizations, October 2012, 28(4).

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