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Consumers Hurt By Skyrocketing Medical Liability Insurance Costs

Huge Rises in Policy Costs; Insurers Dropping Policies

(Washington, DC): Soaring professional liability insurance premiums and insurers dropping policies altogether are threats to continued patient care, according to a letter from the American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM). In a letter to Representative James C. Greenwood, the organization offered support for the "Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost Health Care Act of 2002."

"Internists are experiencing average rises in professional liability insurance costs of more than thirty percent in a single year," said Sara Walker, MD, president of the ACP-ASIM. "Physicians facing huge increases in professional liability premiums are still one step ahead of their colleagues who are not even offered the option of renewing their policies."

After more than a decade of generally stable rates for professional liability insurance, many physicians have seen costs increase to unaffordable levels. Physicians are being forced to decide whether to pay the steeper bill, change carriers, move out of state, or retire from the practice of medicine altogether. Of these options, changing carriers may not even be an alternative as companies writing professional liability coverage are leaving the market.

"There is a real potential that the continued rise in insurance rates ultimately will reduce access to care for patients across the country," said Dr Walker. "Physician offices and emergency and trauma rooms have been closing their doors all across the country due to the exorbitant costs."

"Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost Health Care Act of 2002," offers common sense solutions such as limiting attorneys fees and establishing statutes of limitations to help control the cost of professional liability insurance premiums and safeguard patient access to care, according to the letter.

Jack Pope, (202) 261-4556, jpope@acponline.org
Jennifer Whalen, (202) 261-4575, jennw@acponline.org

Page updated: 11-04-03

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