The cost of malpractice insurance is surging in some states, and the increased premiums threaten access to healthcare in areas seeing the biggest bumps, the American Medical Association warned Wednesday.
The report marks the fourth year in a row of increased premiums for medical liability insurance, and comes as clinicians also face additional risks in states advancing restrictive laws on abortion or gender-affirming care.
Last year, 36% of policies had premiums that increased by an average rate of 8.1%, the highest since 2005, according to the AMA. Meanwhile, 8% of policies included decreases in premiums, compared with 10 years ago when 28.7% of policies saw a decrease. Between 2020 and 2022, about 30% of medical liability policies experienced premium increases.
“If current trends continue, even if slower and less severe than the last hard market, this medical liability pressure could have detrimental effects on health care markets, such as an increase in defensive medicine, lower physician supply, and thus reduced access to care,” José Guardado, senior economist for the AMA, wrote in the report.
States including Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania have seen the cost of premiums increase over a 10-year period, while New Jersey and New York have seen declines. Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, Kansas, South Dakota and Kentucky saw liability premiums increase more than 20% in 2022.