Understanding Medical Malpractice Insurance
Medical Malpractice is a hot topic in the healthcare system. Most states require that doctors and professional practitioners be covered under professional liability insurance. These policies can be expensive, and although in a few states it may not be a requirement, many times, hospitals will make it a requirement in order for a doctor to practice at the facility. So most doctors have some type of coverage, even when the state they live in might not require it.
Depending on the type of employment - at a hospital, own practice, or government employment - the coverage will vary. Doctors who work with the government are under its wing, and a lawsuit usually goes against the government since it would make more sense monetarily to sue the government than the doctor.
The insurance companies determine their rates by type of practice or specialty and the location of the practice. Unlike vehicle insurance, it is not based on the physician's experience. When lawsuits are brought against a doctor, it usually takes years to resolve the issue, again much longer than compared to vehicle insurance claims. The states commissioners regulate medical malpractice insurance by state. Each state is different, and premiums can go up in some states and down in others. This only benefits doctors in the sense that it protects premium insurances to get out of control and becoming unaffordable. However, because the difference in rates between states varies widely, this may influence a physician to practice somewhere other than his/her state. In addition, these rates reflect the risk of a lawsuit by specialty, for example obstetrics, a specialty where lawsuits are common. Doctors must take into consideration their insurance rates by specialty and state when deciding where to practice as there would be a substantial difference between rates, in the thousands of dollars a year. However, this is a crude reality that students of medicine should consider very carefully when setting themselves up on that career path.
On the high end of medical malpractice insurance cost, a figure of over $200,000 plus a year is real; however, this is one figure in the very high end of cost, and for a specialty that is considered in much higher risk of lawsuits. However, this illustrates the issue that medical practitioners have to deal with as part of the cost of practicing their particular specialty. For other general practitioners, cost can be around $4,000 a year, to illustrate a lower example.
The type of society in which we live, and the advances in medical technology throughout the years, will have an effect in medical insurance costs in the future. The less invasive and more advance medical technology gets, the better; however, physicians will still have to diagnose patients and recommend procedures, and they will always be the ones at the end of the marvelous technology equipment. This is a debate that will continue for years and it is a good thing that states commissioners take care of this matter, as it prevents medical malpractice insurance costs to go much higher than what already are. It is a tug of war for doctors of medicine; on one side, they have the patient's medical insurances regulating payments for procedures and on the other side, they are paying high malpractice insurance premiums. A question to ask may be - How profitable is Medicine? For more information on this topic visit umav.org.