August 9, 2001 - With two competing versions of a patients bill of rights waiting for Congress to return from the August recess, this week we asked what you thought of allowing patients to "opt out" of the right to sue their HMO --ostensibly with the benefit of a lower premium. Our readers were split almost down the middle on the subject, though 54% thought that we ought to consider alternatives to the mandatory coverage.

Those opposed drew reference to various state versions of “no fault” insurance that were supposed to result in lower premiums, but only appeared to result in fewer insurance claims, as well as a general cynicism that the rates would actually be lower.


“No, I don’t think it should be mandatory. While the quality of insurance is always important, so is the cost. Health care is our largest expense in terms of employee benefits. We need to get over this “sue everyone” mentality.”

“We need to consider alternatives that will simplify the entire coverage process. When you’re ill and feeling like hell has visited is not the time to try and discover the rules to the insurance quagmire game.”

“The Patients Bill of Rights will be an excuse for the insurance companies to raise their rates, no matter which version passes. Even if you “opt out” of the right to sue clause, they will still charge you more to “pay for others”.

“We need to go to the source of the problem, the current legal system where everyone sues for everything and wins even when it is their fault. Companies have to settle out of court for things they aren’t responsible for just to save on the legal costs.”

“The insurance companies decided they needed to make medical decisions to control costs. Now they want to minimize their responsibility for mistakes. They shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways. I think it is incredible that the United States has some of the best trained medical professionals in the world–and we’ve elected to transfer responsibility for treatment decisions to people with little or no medical training at all.”

And this week’s Editor’s Choice:

“I trust insurance companies and HMOs implicitly. I trust them to punish those who want to preserve the right to sue, but not to reward those who waive that right.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!