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Todd Irons
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Kaiser Survey Misreads Employers' Opposition to the Expanded Right to Sue

Washington, DC, October 28, 1999 - The Kaiser Family Foundation's release today of its annual employer health benefits survey badly misreads the overwhelming opposition America's employers have with proposals to expand the right to sue.

The Kaiser survey does not ask if employers would still support a right to sue if they knew it would increase costs and decrease coverage. Previous Kaiser surveys have shown that support for a Patients' Bill of Rights drops dramatically once its consequences are known (Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard Survey, January 1998 and April 1999). Also, the Kaiser survey did not reveal that this right to sue could put employers at risk of lawsuits - the key reason it is opposed by the employer community.

"Strangely, the Kaiser study is inconsistent with the level of opposition being heard from employers toward expanding the right to sue," said Dan Danner, chairman of the Health Benefits Coalition. "Survey after survey has shown employers oppose expanded liability because it will increase costs, decrease coverage and subject employers themselves to costly, open-ended lawsuits," said Danner. "In fact, the Kaiser survey itself showed that an overwhelming 94 percent of employers would support an independent review, a much greater number than would support the right to sue."

Various surveys have demonstrated employer opposition to expanding the right to sue heath plans:

  • A National Association of Manufacturers survey (February 1999) showed 96 percent of their members view liability as a "great concern," and 38 percent would stop providing health coverage if the expanded right to sue became law.
  • A U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll (October 1999) showed 65 percent of employers will terminate their health benefits programs if expanded liability becomes law.
  • A survey of 300 small business owners by Public Opinion Strategies (February 1998) showed 57 percent of small employers would drop health coverage for their employees if they were to be exposed to expanded liability.

There is a disconnect in the Kaiser survey between expanded liability and the higher costs that would surely result. Though Kaiser's survey indicates support for expanded liability, it also shows 72 percent of employers questioned are worried that health care costs will increase faster than they can afford.

"There is a definite link between expanded liability and skyrocketing health care costs. It is simply unbelievable that employers would be concerned about rising health care costs but also support expanding the right to sue," said Danner.


The Health Benefits Coalition is a broad-based organization representing three million employers providing health care coverage to more than 100 million employees and families. The coalition believes affordable, quality health care is best achieved through broader coverage, choice and competition in the marketplace —not government mandates.