Soaring costs for insurance stun physicians in Harrisburg, Pa. area

Harrisburg’s Patriot-News
Monday, December 24, 2001

For Sandy Rubin, who manages her husband's Hampden Twp. orthopedic practice, the painful news came in September, when she learned his medical malpractice insurance premium would nearly double, to $ 65,000.

But more stunning news came in November, when she learned the insurer is pulling out of Pennsylvania and won't renew coverage for her husband, Dr. Morton L. Rubin, who has 26 years of experience and a good record.

"I'm terrified. In the last two weeks I've filled out four applications. They're asking questions I've never heard before. If you answer yes to any of them, you won't have insurance coming your way," she said. For the second consecutive year, the price of medical malpractice insurance in Pennsylvania will rise sharply in 2002.

Premiums charged by the largest underwriters will increase from 19 percent to 50 percent, state Deputy Insurance Commissioner Randy Rohrbaugh said. Premiums rose between 21 percent and 60 percent last year.

On top of that, several companies are pulling out of the state and have told doctors that their policies won't be renewed.

Physicians contend exorbitant insurance premiums, mostly in the high-risk fields of orthopedics, obstetrics/gynecology and neurosurgery, are driving doctors out of the state or into early retirement, causing some to scale back practices, and keeping young specialists away from Pennsylvania.


[A]ccording to a recent study by the nonprofit Center for Justice and Democracy, the national average payout to victims of medical malpractice is $ 42,607, up slightly from $ 39,093 a decade ago.

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

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