Professional liability insurance premiums are up by 53.2% this year for physicians in small to mid-size medical groups, a national survey of group practices suggests--more than previously thought.
Medical malpractice premiums jumped by 36.4% between 2001 and 2002, according to the Medical Group Management Association, an Englewood, Colo., trade association for group practices, which announced the findings Wednesday. MGMA's Aaron Krupp presented the results at a congressional hearing on the topic of medical liability, according to a spokesperson.
The findings are higher than previous estimates of med mal rate hikes of 30% or more, though comparisons are difficult for lack of data. The AMA said last summer that premiums for 2002 went up by "as much as 65%," depending on specialty, but did not provide an average across all specialties.
Medical Liability Monitor, a publication that tracks med mal costs, generally rejects the notion of an overall single number to represent physician premiums because costs vary widely by specialty.
However, in a written statement from the MGMA, CEO William Jessee, M.D., says, "The survey results leave no doubt that skyrocketing liability premiums "
According to the MGMA, 26.1% of the 700 practices surveyed say that some of their physicians will retire, relocate or scale back their work over the next three years as a result of spiraling med mal rates.
Just under 23% plan on referring high-risk patients elsewhere to reduce malpractice exposure within the same time frame; 14.1% already have stopped treating certain risky cases, the survey says.
The 700 medical groups polled collectively account for 16,800 physicians--an average of 24 per group--though the median practice size among participating groups is nine physicians, according to the MGMA.