Small Firms Favor Patient Rights

August 29, 2001 ( - Small employers are more likely than larger firms to support an expanded right for patients to sue their health plans, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust.

Asked if they were in favor of expanded rights for patients to sue their health plans for malpractice, smaller firms, employing between three and 199 employees responded in the following way:

  • two-thirds were in favor,
  • while 18% opposed the idea, and
  • the remainder were unsure.

While among larger firms with 200 or more employees:

  • only 28% were in favor,
  • the majority, 47% were against expanded rights, and
  • almost a quarter were unsure.

Wary of Higher Premiums

Also, support for a law requiring health plans to allow appeals of denied claims to an independent reviewer was stronger among smaller firms than larger firms, with 86% of smaller firms favoring independent review, compared with 74% of larger firms in favor.

However support for expanded access to the courts dropped among both small firms and large firms, as it did for independent review requirements when respondents were asked to factor in potential increase in health insurance premiums following new legislation.

The survey comprised the responses of 2,734 randomly selected public and private employers, including 1,907 who responded to a full survey and 827 who indicated only whether or not they provide health coverage.

– Camilla Klein