Premiums for medical malpractice insurance for three bellwether specialties dropped for the fifth straight year in 2012, according to an article by Medscape. Medical societies such as the American Medical Association have argued that a broken medical liability system increases insurance premiums for physicians. However, rates for obstetrician/gynecologists, general internists, and general surgeons decreased on average by 1.7% in 2012, following declines of since 2008, according to an annual rate survey by Medical Liability Monitor (MLM).
One reason why malpractice insurers can still make profits while charging less is a drop in malpractice claims, according to Chad Karls, an author of the survey. Another potential influence on premiums is caps on pain and suffering damages that many states have recently enacted in hopes that they reduce the number of “frivolous lawsuits and excessive jury awards.”
Nearly 60 percent of the hundreds of reported premium rates remained the same from 2011, about 25 percent decreased, and about 15 percent increased. Rates published in the MLM survey do not reflect credits, debits, or other factors that may raise or lower premiums. Karls noted that the rates could be pushed substantially lower by increasing use of credits by insurers to encourage the use of electronic health records.
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