More fuel for the malpractice premium debate

A study by the Center for Justice and Democracy concludes that medical malpractice payouts have been flat for the past 5 years while premiums have risen 120 percent during that time. That supports the “blame the underwriting cycle” camp that points the finger at insurance companies and away from doctors, attorneys, and juries. It concludes that the med mal insurance industry is extremely profitable.

But the study was attacked immediately by the insurance industry, which says the methodology of comparing current payouts with current premiums can’t be taken seriously, considering the 8-10 year lag between claim and payout.

I haven’t read the study, but my own sense is that the conclusions don’t make a lot of sense. Commercial carriers like St. Paul have withdrawn from the market and the field is increasingly served by doctor-owned companies and captive carriers that are more attuned to the market’s complexities and risk management strategies.

And the Center for Justice and Democracy isn’t exactly a neutral party. One part of the group’s mission is to:

Inform the public about the dangers of “tort reform” and the stealth corporate campaign behind it.

July 7, 2005

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