Liability Troubles

Lisa A. Tomaszewski, James Russo

,
Michael Sheehan

Physician's Money Digest, March31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 6

Medical Liability Monitor's

America's doctors are really feelingthe malpractice pinch as 75% of themsaw an increase in their 2003 medicalmalpractice insurance bills, according to annual ratesurvey. Among the specialties, nearly60% of OB/GYN physicians, internists,and general surgeons saw increases rangingfrom 10% to 50%. And more troubleseems to be on the horizon as 83% ofinsurance carriers expressed the need foradditional increases in 2004. Insurersstate that the continuing rate climb isbased in part on losses they pay out,which in themselves are increasing 7%per year. Some physicians have an evenbigger problem than soaring rates—theycan't even get coverage. Companies insome states are restricting new policywritings, and those that are staying inthe business are restricting whom theywill cover. Both struggling physiciansand insurers seem to believe that tortreform through noneconomic damagecaps may be a solution to the problem.They're probably right; surveys showthat states without noneconomic damagescaps generally saw larger rate increasesthan states with caps.