While rates for medical malpractice insurance appear to be leveling off slightly, triple-digit increases continue, and many physicians are paying more than ever before for their coverage, according to the 2004 national survey from the Chicago-based Medical Liability Monitor.
The publication, an independent newsletter that has surveyed providers of medical liability since 1991, found that the majority of rate increases were between about 7% and 25% -- lower than the range of approximately 10% to 49% in the 2003 survey.
Still, physicians, especially those in high-risk specialties, are paying more than ever before for insurance, according to the survey. While obstetricians in Dade County, Fla., experienced an 11% rate hike, their annual premiums reached $277,241, one insurer reported. Illinois obstetricians are paying as much as $230,428, the report said.
"This year, we're seeing increases leveling off in the 7% to 25% range, but at historically high amounts," said Monitor editor Barbara Dillard.
The publication, which reports rates from 45 companies -- or about 75% of the physician malpractice-insurance market -- also noted that many companies are continuing restrictive underwriting practices, imposing moratoriums on new business or declining to renew physicians in some areas.
The survey included rates for internists, OB/GYNs and general surgeons. Of the 788 rate changes listed in the survey, only 34 were decreases, while 104 rates remained unchanged.