The Ohio Hospital Association will invest $10 million in a new medical malpractice insurance company to provide coverage to hard-pressed doctors and hospitals. Officials said the company, OHA Insurance Solutions, is licensed and ready to provide coverage to a limited number of doctors beginning Jan. 1, 2004. A number of hospitals have invested in or announced plans to join the venture.
Ohio, with 28,000 licensed doctors, is one of 19 "crisis" states based on the impact of rising insurance costs on physicians, according to the Chicago-based American Medical Association. The problem hasn't been eased by the passage of a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages, which took effect in April. With rates jumping an average of about 35% over the past year or so, according to Bill Byers, a spokesman with the Ohio State Medical Association, only five companies now offer coverage to doctors, down from about 20 just a few years ago. "This will bring more competition to the market, and that will help," he said. -- by Michael Romano