Questions raised on malpractice policy costs

Denver Post
Friday, March 4, 2005

The cost of medical malpractice premiums in Colorado and elsewhere is being questioned by consumer groups after Washington officials refunded physicians in that state a total of $1.3 million.
The refund, announced Thursday, was lauded by consumer advocates who contend premium "price gouging" occurs nationwide, including in Colorado.
However, Colorado physicians have not experienced the kind of unjustified rate hikes Washington doctors have, said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Doug Dean. And they aren't likely to, he said.
"Medical malpractice is much different in Colorado than Washington," Dean said. "We're one of the states where tort reform is working very well."
About 80 percent, or 6,000, of the state's private physicians are insured by Copic Cos., a nonprofit, physician-directed company that refunds doctors' premiums in years when claim activity is low, said George Dikeou, the group's legislative consultant.
Additionally, Colorado has some of the nation's most stringent caps on damages that can be awarded to patients who sue, he said.

In Colorado, the legislature threw out the disability law but did agree to increase the noneconomic damage limit to $300,000 from $250,000.
Even so, some consumer advocates claim the price increases are more nefarious.
"This action acknowledges what we have known all along - the insurance industry's dubious practice of charging doctors excessive and unjustified premiums has caused doctors' insurance problems, not the often-blamed legal system," said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of The Center for Justice & Democracy, a consumer group that monitors the insurance industry.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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