Health law is a general term describing the law that governs members and users of the health industry and delivery of health services. The law that governs health law is expansive including federal, state and local rules and regulations. This requires attorneys specializing in health law to have an understanding of a variety of different laws and issue.
Health law cases can involve payers of health insurance, health insurance companies, doctors, patients and anyone else who is involved in the health care industry. Since health law is an emerging field, only established in the 1990’s, attorneys likely cover a variety of cases that intersect with other fields of law.
In addition to this, health care law also involves the regulation of public health. Thus, larger issues such as access to care and common practices are also within the field of an attorney specializing in health law. These cases generally take longer to complete because they are usually class action lawsuits or involve governmental regulatory bodies.
Some examples of common claims in the field of health law are:
- Health Insurance Disputes
- Medical Malpractice
- Contract Law
- Public Health Law
- Administrative law
A health insurance dispute is generally a dispute arising from lack or payment of the health insurance policy or lack of coverage under the insured’s policy. This can also include contract law in the sense that insurance policies are contracts. Medical malpractice suits are cases that allege a mistake on behalf of a medical practitioner that resulted in quantifiable damages to the patient. Administrative law is the law that intersects with governmental regulations, such as challenging a new health care statute. Finally, public health law involves lawsuits alleging a widespread lack of access to healthcare or inadequacies in the system. These cases generally involve indigent patients that are unable to afford insurance.
Despite the fact that health care law is a growing field, there are not many attorneys that choose to specialize in health care law. In fact, only a handful of Unites States law schools offer a specific health law L.L.M. A L.L.M. is a specialized degree, short of a juries doctorate, that is similar to a “major” in undergraduate studies. It allows attorney’s to learn in depth the specific issues facing the health law field and get hands on training working with clients before graduating. For some more fun legal stuff, view my commerce clause page.