In Malpractice Premiums Drop for 6th Straight Year, oncology expert witness Dr. Judy L. Schmidt writes:
86% of Rates Decreased or Did Not Change
The MLM survey analyzes malpractice insurance rates charged by carriers in markets that range from entire states to single counties. The publication asks insurers to quote their standard rates for policies with limits of $1 million for an individual claim and $3 million in any given year for all claims. Rates published by MLM, effective as of July 1, are not necessarily what physicians pay, because insurers apply a variety of credits, debits, and other factors that raise or lower the dollar amount.
Insurers lately have been liberal with credits, reducing rates for physicians who take a risk-management seminar or use an electronic health record system, said Karls. Such credits probably have lowered rates by an additional 2 or 3 percentage points in 2013.
MLM collected hundreds of premium quotes that represent 65% to 75% of the medical liability insurance market. In a virtual replay of 2012, 57.6% of the 2013 quotes remained the same from the year before, 28.8% decreased, and 13.7% increased, usually by less than 10%.
The survey includes rate information for 7 states with patient compensation funds designed to lower the cost of malpractice coverage. Every physician in the state pays a surcharge into the fund in addition to buying minimal coverage from a private insurer, said MLM editor Michael Matray. Acting essentially as a reinsurer, the compensation fund boosts the coverage — in some states to the $1 million/$3 million level. The rates that MLM reports for these states are the sum of physician surcharges and premiums.
Rates for Internists Range From $3375 to $47,707
As in previous years, the MLM report reveals where malpractice litigation is red hot and where it is blue-green cool. Premium rates, after all, are based on an insurer’s claims experience in a given locale.
The most expensive premiums for a $1 million/$3 million policy for internists once again turned up in Miami-Dade County, Florida. There, the Doctors’ Company quoted a rate of $47,707. The nation’s lowest rate for internists was $3375, quoted by ProAssurance Wisconsin Insurance for the entire state of Minnesota.
The New York counties of Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island are home to the highest rates for obstetrician-gynecologists — $227,899 from Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers. On the low end is a quote of $16,240 from Cooperative of American Physicians (CAP) for ob/gyns in mid-California. The quote is on top of CAP membership dues of $440 each year.
For general surgeons, quoted rates range from $190,829 from the Doctors’ Company for Miami-Dade County to $10,868 from MMIC Group for Wisconsin.
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