More doctors quit over insurance; Charleston hospitals scrambling for orthopedic surgeons

Charleston Gazette
Saturday, August 3, 2002

At least two bone surgeons quit Thomas Memorial Hospital Wednesday after their medical malpractice insurance wasn’t renewed.


In December, St. Paul Cos. said it was getting out of the medical malpractice insurance business. They haven’t renewed insurance plans of doctors nationwide.

At the same time, West Virginia legislators created a state-run plan that gave doctors malpractice coverage through the state Board of Risk and Insurance Management. As of July 20, the program covered 365 doctors and dentists, six hospitals and six other facilities.

But doctors have said BRIM doesn’t solve the problem of doctors not getting affordable insurance. BRIM’s premiums are 10 percent more expensive than those offered through the commercial market.

The state had to offer higher rates so they wouldn’t be seen as a competitor to the other commercial carriers in the state.

The West Virginia State Medical Association is working on another solution: a doctor-run insurance company. They hope to reveal more details at the association’s annual healthcare summit at the end of August.

Last week, President Bush also touted a report by the Health and Human Services Department that called for limits on malpractice case awards.
Malpractice insurance premiums for certain high-risk specialists jumped 10 percent last year. This year, rates may increase by another 20 percent, the report said.

The Center for Justice & Democracy, meanwhile, told Bush to focus on the real reasons for the soaring malpractice premiums: the feeble economy and corporate irresponsibility by the insurance industry.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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