Although a large majority ofthe nation's medical malpracticeinsurance companies(67%) say that premiumsare leveling off, physicians shouldnot be celebrating just yet.
If you're an OB/GYN physician, generalsurgeon, or internist practicing in theMiami, Fla, area, you're paying the highestmalpractice premiums in the country,according to the 's 2004 rate survey (www.medicalliabilitymonitor.com). OB/GYN physiciansin Dade County, Fla, pay$277,241 a year for malpractice coverage,an 11% increase over last year's premiums.That's almost $50,000 a yearmore than OB/GYN physicians in thenext highest area, Cook County, Ill, whopay $230,428 for a year's coverage.
General surgeons fared just as badlyin Dade County, also paying $277,241 ayear, a 22% boost from last year. InWayne County, Mich, general surgeonspay the next highest annual premium($193,819); that's a wild 61% jumpfrom 2003. Kansas City, Mo, surgeonshad the highest percent boost for malpractice,a 104% increase to $132,314.
Although malpractice premiums forinternists in the Miami area are muchlower than premiums for the other twospecialties, they are still the highest in thenation, at $69,310 a year, a 5.5%increase from last year. Wayne County,where internists pay $63,898 a year formalpractice protection, comes in secondon the nation's highest premiums list.The biggest annual percentage increasewent to internists in northeast Ohio,who saw their premiums skyrocket by122% to nearly $42,000.
Nationwide, the majority of premiumadjustments for internists, general surgeons,and OB/GYN physicians were inthe 1% to 25% increase range. Only 5%saw lower rates and 13% saw no premiumchanges. The majority (about 60%)saw premium increases of 10% or more,with about a quarter being hit with ratesthat were higher by 25% or more.
Internists in search of malpracticeinsurance relief might look to Nebraska,where annual premiums are just $3213,and Minnesota ($3375). For OB/GYNphysicians, malpractice Nirvana may bein Nebraska, where premiums are just$16,194, or South Dakota ($17,638).General surgeons also can obtain thecheapest malpractice coverage in Nebraska,where premiums are $10,976,and Minnesota ($11,306).