Bay State doctors paid lower malpractice insurance premiums on average in 2005 than 1990, according to a new Health Affairs study. The study clashes with popular beliefs frequently touted by sponsors of legislative efforts to cap damage awards.
“If you don’t find a crisis here, you’re probably not going to find one nationally,” lead author and Suffolk University Law School scholar Marc Rodwin told The Boston Globe. “Clearly there are some increases in premiums and high premiums for a small percentage of doctors in three specialty groups, but that’s entirely different for the rest of doctors.”
Malpractice settlements in Massachusetts are the fourth highest in the nation, and the American Medical Association lists it as one of 21 states being in a crisis due to high medical malpractice payments and lack of laws to cap settlements, the Globe reports.
The Suffolk study found that most Massachusetts physicians paid an average of $17,810 in premiums in 2005, slightly less than the $17,907 paid in 1990, after adjusting for inflation.
The researchers analyzed data from 1975 to 2005 provided by ProMutual Group, the insurer for about half of the state’s doctors.
Rates for specialists in obstetrics/gynecology, neurological surgery, and orthopedics involving spinal surgery increased on average from $66,220 in 1990 to $95,045 in 2005.
So is malpractice reform a distraction from real health reform debate? Probably, but it is one that must be dealt with to get docs on the side of real health care reform.