For the fourth straight year, medical liability insurance premiums have eased nationwide.
That's according to the annual Medical Liability Monitor survey, which showed 94% of premiums holding steady or dropping in 2009. Fifty-eight percent of premiums had no change, up from 50% in 2008. Another 36% of premiums fell, down from 43% last year.
While those figures are encouraging, physicians and insurance executives say premiums still must shrink from sky-high levels. Insurers expect improvements to continue into next year but are cautious of some potentially unfavorable trends suggesting that results could be short-lived.
"It does ease the pain, but the pain is still there because rates are still dramatically higher" than they were before rising in the early 2000s, said Robert D. Francis, chief operating officer of The Doctors Company, a Napa, Calif., physician-owned liability insurer that participated in the survey.
Meanwhile, jury awards are climbing steadily, counteracting ...
Pennsylvania physicians have filed yet another lawsuit in an effort to preserve what's left of the state's medical liability insurance fund after the governor in October approved a $100 million withdrawal to balance the state's budget.
Doctors and other health care professionals contribute annually to Mcare, the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund, which was authorized under a 2002 tort reform package. State physicians are required to carry $1 million in liability insurance, but the fund subsidizes half of their premiums.
Gov. Ed Rendell and state lawmakers have said they plan to use what they contend is excess money in the Mcare pool to fund health care expansions and other budgetary needs.
But physicians said the additional funds were meant to cover liability claims still pending in the courts. Those outstanding claims will cost an estimated $1.7 billion, according to the lawsuit filed Oct. 12 by the Pennsylvania Medical Society and state hospitals. Any mon ...