At least three new efforts are being planned in Pennsylvania to deal with a malpractice insurance crisis that has forced many doctors to scramble for increasingly costly coverage -- if it's available at all.
A top Philadelphia law firm, Duane, Morris & Heckscher, is backing a plan through a subsidiary to create the Pennsylvania Health Care Providers' Insurance Exchange. The company, which needs approval from state regulators before its scheduled opening this fall, would act like a mutual insurer, where members pay premiums into a pool.
A second effort is led by Barton Post, a longtime Philadelphia malpractice defense lawyer, who wants to create a malpractice insurance company.
Meanwhile, a group of local orthopedic surgeons is attempting to create a risk-retention group for members of that specialty.
The risk-retention group, unlike the mutual exchange proposed by the law firm, does not participate in a state fund that essentially provides insurance to the insurers in case of failure.
Most of the state's 35,000 practicing physicians are covered by commercial insurers. These new plans are not expected to cost any less than the current premiums for those commercial plans, but they would provide coverage to many doctors who say they can't find insurance at almost any price. --by Michael Romano