Malpractice Premiums-Location, Location

Physician's Money Digest, November30 2003, Volume 10, Issue 22

If you're a general surgeon, internist, or OB/GYN physician practicing in the Miami, Fla, area, you're paying the highest malpractice premiums in the country for those specialties, according to the "Medical Liability Monitor" (www.medicalliabilitymonitor.com) 2003 rate survey. OB/GYN physicians in Dade County, Fla, pay $249,196 a year for malpractice coverage, a 24% increase over last year's premiums. That's almost $100,000 a year more than OB/GYN physicians in the next highest area, Wayne County, Mich, who pay $154,165 for a year's worth of coverage.

General surgeons fare almost as badly in Dade County, paying $226,542 a year, a 30% boost from last year's premiums. In Wayne County, general surgeons pay the same $154,165 annual premium that OB/GYN physicians pay. Although malpractice premiums for internists in the Miami area are much lower than for the other 2 specialties, they are still the highest in the nation, at $65,697 a year, a 17% increase over last year's rates. Wayne County, where internists pay $50,063 a year for malpractice protection, again comes in second on the list.

Nationwide, premium adjustments for internists, general surgeons, and OB/GYN physicians ranged from a 144% increase to a 16% decrease. Only 2.3% saw lower rates, however, although 20.3% saw no changes in their premium. The vast majority—almost two thirds—saw premium increases of 10% or more, with about 6% being hit with rates that were higher by 50% or more.

Internists in search of malpractice insurance relief might look into Nebraska, where annual premiums are just $2786. For OB/GYN physicians, malpractice Nirvana may be in South Dakota, where premiums are just $14,662, less than 6% of what Miami doctors are shelling out every year. General surgeons can get the cheapest malpractice coverage in Minnesota, where premiums are $8717, less than 4% of the coverage cost in Miami.