Some Current Shocking Realities About Medical Malpractice

Medical Malpractice – Some Shocking Realities

Malpractice Insurance

Malpractice Insurance

 

Availability of Medical Malpractice Insurance

The cost of medical malpractice insurance has greatly increased and, at the same time, the availability has decreased. Because medical malpractice insurance is becoming so expensive, it is forcing some doctors to leave the practice of medicine, which is causing problems for patients who have diminished access to care due to a shortage of healthcare providers.

We, as a nation, need to closely examine our healthcare practices and ask ourselves what we can do to change the number of malpractice suits currently being filed.

 

Unhappy patients

Unhappy patients

Why are Patients so Unhappy with Our Current Healthcare Practices?

In spite of the fact that we have highly successful treatments and cures for diseases available, along with all kinds of new technology that helps our healthcare system to detect and treat illnesses, malpractice suits continue to be filed. One study that looked at plaintiff depositions, questionnaires and telephone surveys found that the following four reasons seem to be the most common for filing a malpractice lawsuit. These reasons are:

1. Not wanting a similar bad incident to happen again
2. Wanting an explanation as to why and how the medical error was made
3. Seeking financial compensation for pain, loses, and suffering and to help with future care for the harmed patient
4. Holding physicians accountable for their actions which seemed to focus in on the breakdown in doctor-patient communication

 

Patient communication

Patient communication

Physician-Patient Communication

Communication problems between patients who filed malpractice suits and their doctors seemed to occur in these areas: doctors not listening, not being forthcoming about medical issues, attempting to mislead the patient or, in the case of newborns, not warning the parent about long-term neuro-developmental problems and a feeling that physicians were unavailable, did not value the patient or family views, presented information in an unclear way or did not understand concerns that the patient was having.

Early Disease Detection and Appropriate Treatment

The healthcare system in the United States is not doing a very good job of providing care to its patients. In fact, data places the United States in the lower quadrant in the industrialized world in the areas of quality of healthcare, infant mortality, and life expectancy. Consequently, we need to question why we are paying so much for healthcare and getting so little in return.

Early disease detection

Early disease detection

Recent studies have shown the following five areas are problematic when it comes to early diagnosis and appropriate treatment for disease:

1. Failing to order appropriate diagnostic tests
2. Failing to order appropriate follow-up plans
3. Failing to acquire an adequate health history from the patient
4. Failing to perform a proper physical examination and, 5. Incorrectly interpreting diagnostic tests.

Cost of Medical Malpractice affects Healthcare Delivery

Until the practice of medicine focuses on making the patient a priority and not on trying to make a huge profit by treating as many patients as possible in the shortest amount of time, malpractice insurance costs will continue to rise. The majority of doctors do care about their patients but the healthcare system intervenes by placing an emphasis on profit. This emphasis on the bottom line gives the healthcare provider little time to spend with the patient which may lead to less time to communicate, diagnose and decide on the most appropriate follow-up treatment plan which can result in more malpractice suits.

 

Malpractice costs

Malpractice costs

The escalating cost of malpractice insurance is creating a shortage of physicians because many are choosing to leave and find a more lucrative way to make a living. This inefficient system needs to be corrected and a more efficient model needs to be implemented. Until that happens, patients will have to take a much more proactive role in monitoring their own health.

Other Factors that Increase Healthcare Costs

Healthcare costs are high for many reasons. New technologies and drugs, with drugs ranking third in healthcare spending, due in part to the approximately $1 billion cost of to develop a new drug. Overuse of specialty area physicians, possibly due to the shortage of primary care doctors who make far less than specialists. Another expensive area is administrative costs, which are mostly generated by private insurance companies due to the time-consuming claim submissions process.

 

Increasing healthcare costs

Increasing healthcare costs

Physician fees, inefficiently delivered services, unnecessary services, fraud and missed prevention opportunities are other areas that contribute to the increasing cost of healthcare. Finally, the high cost of defensive medicine, which is when physicians order diagnostic tests or treatments as a defense against the possibility of a malpractice suit being filed when, in fact, the treatments or tests may not be clinically necessary.

We’re glad you read our post. Input is always good, so please share your thoughts. For those managing a doctor’s office, and filing patient claims, JustCMS1500Forms.com is running a special on the cms 1500 form 02/12 form at the moment. You’ll find no better provider of the new cms 1500 version 02/12 form than them. Take care, and keep an eye out for my next post.

 

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Considerations Every Taxpayer Should Ponder When Marrying or Divorcing

What to Consider When Taxpayers Marry or Divorce

Divorce

Divorce

Taxpayer Marital Timing

Rescheduling of a marriage or divorce by a single day at year’s end can make a big difference in tax liability in both years. Usually, marital status as of December 31 determines filing status for the full year with the exception that, if a spouse dies during the year, the survivor still may file a joint return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers a taxpayer who marries on New Year’s Eve as married for the entire year. Similarly, the IRS considers a taxpayer legally separated or divorced on December 31 as single for the entire year.

For taxpayers earning about the same, marriage before the end of the year can be costly. Their tax liability on the combined incomes can be considerably more than it would be on the sum of their incomes reported separately, in effect a “marriage penalty,” but by postponing their marriage into the next year the taxpayers get a reprieve from the marriage penalty for that year. Conversely, marriage can save taxpayers money when one earns considerably more than the other.

Divorced couple

Divorced couple

The IRS Applies Similar Rules to Taxpayers Who Divorce

If they divorce near the end of the year, they lose the option to file jointly for the entire year. If single status is advantageous, to qualify for it they must be in fact legally separated or divorced by December 31.

Each year stands alone. Married couples might face the penalty in some years and enjoy tax savings in others. Taxpayers William Jefferson and Hillary Rodham Clinton paid the penalty from 1983 to 1992, when his annual salary as Governor of Arkansas was $35,000 and she earned much more as a Little Rock law firm partner. They saved money from 1993 to 2000, when his annual salary as President of the United States was $200,000 as the sole family taxpayer until she entered the Senate in January 2001.

dual income couple

dual income couple

Some Dual-Income Couples Manipulate the Marriage Penalty Aspects of The Tax Code

Increasingly, such couples get divorces in December and then remarry in January. Some have revealed on national television that they divorce and remarry annually so they can file as two single taxpayers and save money, frolic for a week or so, and buy some extra Christmas presents with what they save.

At the IRS, under Revenue Ruling 76–253 the agency disregards divorces solely to save money on taxes and requires recalculations as if the taxpayers had stayed married for the whole year, making them liable for not only additional taxes but also interest and perhaps penalties.

Divorce planning

Divorce planning

 

Taxpayer Divorce Planning

Taxpayers negotiating separations should consult with tax professionals on arrangements that could lighten their tax burdens:

–    Filing Status. Taxpayers still legally married on December 31 may file jointly. If they divorce and agree on claims for children as dependents, they can file as single heads of households for better tax treatment. Regardless of custody provisions, taxpayers can agree out of court on who claims children as dependents.
–    Medical Expenses. Typically, the parent who pays for the child’s medical expenses can claim deductions for them.
–    Alimony. The party awarded alimony must pay taxes on that income. The party paying alimony may deduct it from taxable income.
–    Child Support. Child support is always tax-neutral with no effect on either divorced taxpayer’s income.
–    Retirement Investments. A divorced party who withdraws from a defined-contribution pension account may face early withdrawal penalties, and the IRS considers the withdrawal taxable income. Withdrawal and transfer under a qualified domestic relations order avoids this tax liability.
–    Capital Gains. Single filers can shelter up to $250,000 in proceeds on the sale of a primary residence, married couples filing jointly up to $500,000. Taxpayers who stand to gain more may time their divorce and home sale accordingly. Such tax breaks are available only to those who have lived in the home at least two of the past five years.
–    Mortgage interest. The spouse acquiring the home also claims the mortgage interest deduction regardless of who lives in the home or makes the mortgage payments. If both continue to own it jointly, both may split the deduction.

Divorcing Taxpayers

Divorcing Taxpayers

 

Cooperation between Divorcing Taxpayers

Taxpayers can determine many tax decisions best for themselves if they act in good faith with one another on the payment of any income tax balance due on a joint return and the shares of any refunds. Transfers between divorcing taxpayers in property settlements are gifts and not taxable, but to pay settlements sometimes taxpayers must use assets in ways that incur tax consequences. Withdrawals of funds from restricted accounts may cause tax liabilities. Sales of assets received in settlements may produce taxable capital gains.

Tax credits, another consideration for divorcing taxpayers, can result in refunds. The earned income tax credit is refundable, as are the child and dependent care credit available to taxpayers who must incur expenses in order to work and the child tax credit available to taxpayers claiming dependency exemptions for children under 17. Divorcing couples can sometimes reduce their taxes by such credits. The IRS is indifferent as to which parent claims the exemption, but both cannot.

Hopefully, this post inspired you to advise your business clients on business and divorce issues more proactively. Along with that, consider simplifying your efforts this tax season. For instance, if you’re not tax filing online, you need to. Choosing to efile 1099 and other tax forms will save time and expenses.

Like most tax pros, your clients have sub-contractors and employees. If you’re spending time delivering tax forms, shorten the time and work by 70% using this resource. Use eFile4Biz.com to file 1099 online, and use the spare time to find new clients. Watch the video below to see what I mean.

If you have ideas on this topic to share, please visit our LiveJournal page here and leave your comments or suggest some useful links to explore on this topic.