Study says malpractice payouts aren't rising

New York Times
Thursday, July 7, 2005

When Mike Kreidler was an optometrist in Olympia, Wash., he railed against trial lawyers. He believed that aggressive trial lawyers were the reason he faced rising insurance premiums. 

Dr. Kreidler, now in his second term as Washington State's insurance commissioner, has changed his mind. He has decided that the problem is not the lawyers - although they have contributed - but also the insurance companies. 

"I came full circle," he said. "I started out with a strong bias against trial lawyers and lawsuits, and now I see the trade-off and I have both sides, the trial lawyers and the insurance companies, mad at me." 

The high price of medical malpractice insurance is a notoriously nebulous and highly politicized subject. Insurers and doctors contend that the insurance is more expensive because of a surge in jury awards and settlements. Consumer advocates and their political allies assert that insurers have raised rates because they can, arguing that insurers' claims have slowed significantly while premiums have shot up. 

A study to be released today by the Center for Justice and Democracy, a consumer advocacy group in New York, may add fuel to that debate. The study, compiled from regulatory filings by insurers to state regulators, finds that net claims for medical malpractice paid by 15 leading insurance companies have remained flat over the last five years, while net premiums have surged 120 percent. 
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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