Effects of rising malpractice premiums said to be overstated
MANAGED CARE October 2003. ©MediMedia USA
A recent report by the U.S. General Accounting Office caused much discussion recently by challenging the contention that physicians are moving out of states in which medical malpractice insurance premiums have risen steeply. The GAO found that "many of the reported provider actions were not substantiated or did not affect access to health care on a widespread basis."
Health plans worried that the malpractice crisis may begin to affect access to physicians for their members may breathe a bit more easily, though there is still some cause for concern. Officials in two states, Nevada and West Virginia, dispute the report's findings, saying it did not weaken any of the arguments for medical liability reform. The GAO did find that malpractice premiums rose more slowly in states that placed caps on damages for pain and suffering.
Premium growth lower when caps on damages exist
*Note: Excludes states with caps of $250,000.
SOURCE: UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: IMPLICATIONS OF RISING PREMIUMS ON ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE