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Steven Schultz
Steven Schultz
Contributor •

Micra Limits Everything

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I recently spotted an article on the topic of MICRA (Medical Insurance Compensation Reform Act) and the need for reform. The article spoke at length about how MICRA limits pain and suffering damages to $250,000, and the need for reforms on that over 30 year old limitation.

The problem I had with the article is that it vastly understated the true extent of the limitations imposed by MICRA, and the devastating consequences those limits have on injured people. The $250,000 limit is just one of several limitations that was designed to keep money away from catastrophically injured victims, and in the hands of insurance companies.

The MICRA legislation limits the amount of economic damages that can be recovered as well. It does this by allowing doctors and hospitals to use evidence of health insurance payments to offset the amount of money victims can recover in medical bills and in lost income. It is important to note that doctors and hospitals are the ONLY group in the entire state that get this benefit, which vastly reduces the amount of money they must pay on the injuries and damages they cause. Once again private consumers are left with a less than complete recovery.

The MICRA laws also limits how the health care provider has to pay for damages they cause, even after they loose in trial. In every other type of case, the losing defendant has to pay the full amount for the past and future damages he/she causes. In a medical malpractice case, MICRA allows health care providers to periodicize the payments which means they can pay back the future damages they cause over the rest of the life of the victim, rather than all at once on the completion of the case. Even worse, in the event the victim dies earlier than expected, the balance of the future money awarded to the victim goes back to the doctor or hospital. It does not even go to the vicitm’s family.

All of these limitations, and others, imposed by MICRA make it virtually impossible for injured victims to get a fair recovery for their loses. These same limits make it even more difficult for victims to find an attorney that will work on these types of cases.

It seems to me that MICRA has been around for more than 30 years. Interestingly, the problems that MICRA was designed to fix are still considered problems today (ie… high malpractice premiums; high health insurance premiums; good doctors leaving California). Maybe MICRA’s ultimate effect of punishing the injured vicitms of malpractice was not the way to go, given that all of these problems still exist to this day.

All of these factors should illustrate the desperate need to reform the MICRA system and replace it with something that is fair to all sides, not just the health care providers and those who insure them.

Steve Schultz

1 Comment

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  1. Amber Wheat says:
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    Thank you so much for this article. It’s very interesting. I didn’t know that they are allowed to take health insurance into account! Why should the people who screwed up benefit because the injured party had insurance and paid the premiums? How did MICRA get started in the first place? It seems SO unfair!