Sunday, July 1, 2007

Are doctors' malpractice premiums unfair?

Insurance companies have said for years that they're paying more and more in medical malpractice claims as they push for caps on lawsuits, like the cap approved in Idaho. But a new study shows claims have been decreasing for seven years while the insurance premiums continued to rise. Report author Jay Angoff with the American Association of Justice says it looks like the insurance companies are overcharging doctors.

"The amount they project that they're going to be paying out in the future has decreased by 48 percent over the last four years, yet rates have been going way up," Angoff told SVO. "This makes no sense."

The insurance industry has criticized the report, saying it doesn't take into account all insurance company liabilities, and that profits are low in the malpractice sector compared to other insurance categories. Angoff based his report on company filings with state governments.

Angoff says doctors don't have time to do their own investigations of insurance company claims and don't seem to suspect anything is amiss.

"They believe what the insurance companies tell them about malpractice claims going up, when in fact, they're going down, and therefore they accept these rate increases."
By Gary Stivers

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