Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Insurance

Pennsylvania Medical Liability Climate

State of PennsylvaniaIn 2002, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruled on a case in favor of the state's ability to enact tort reform laws to lessen the number of frivolous medical malpractice insurance lawsuits entering the Pennsylvania court system. As statisticians collected data in the last decade relating to the tort reform, a clear picture emerged.

For example, in 2000 there were 2,632 medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania. In 2008, there were only 1,602. Of the 32 cases won by patients in 2008, 14 exceeded $1,000,000 and 4 were above $10,000,000. While the number of cases has dramatically decreased, the extremely high payouts still remain in the state of Pennsylvania.

According to the “U.S. Tort Liability Index: 2010 Report,” the condition of Pennsylvania's medical tort climate ranked 46 out 50 in the United States. The ranking took into account the state’s tort losses, the amount of lawsuits and the number of large awards. This is a step in the wrong direction for Pennsylvania as they dropped a position from the 45th place in 2008. The state of Pennsylvania also had five of the nation’s 101 largest jury verdict awards in 2008, helping them to earn the label of one of the United States judicial “hellholes” for medical malpractice.

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Medical Care Availability & Reduction of Error Fund (Mcare)

In 2002, the state of Pennsylvania created the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund or Mcare from Act 13. The Mcare Fund was enacted to ensure reasonable compensation for injuries arising out of medical negligence. The money in this fund provides coverage in excess of primary coverage to health care providers for the losses or damages awarded in medical malpractice insurance actions.

By law, physicians who practice in the state of Pennsylvania are required to carry limits of $1,000,000/$3,000,000 for their medical malpractice insurance. Physicians that practice 50% or more in Pennsylvania have their primary coverage limits purchased through the medical malpractice insurance companies at limits of $500,000/$1,500,000. Mcare provides excess limits in the same amount totaling the required limits. Physicians that practice less than 50% may purchase primary limits of $1,000,000/$3,000,000 from the medical malpractice insurance company or they may purchase the $500,000/$1,5000,00 limits from the medical liability insurance company and the excess from Mcare.

Pennsylvania's Continuous Coverage Law

Pennsylvania's laws require doctors to have a consistent line of coverage with not only their private medical liability insurance company but also the Mcare fund. Sometimes the doctor's agent or the insurance company the doctor works with does not notify the doctor of the Mcare coverage or requirements leaving an unpaid or unattained coverage gap in the doctor's practice history.

If a doctor is currently licensed and has an unreported or uncovered period with Mcare, Mcare will send out two letters. The first to notify the doctor of the gap and the second informing the doctor that Mcare will be reporting the gap to Pennsylvania's licensing board. If a doctor wants to reinstate his or her license and there is a gap in coverage, the doctor must first purchase the Mcare coverage, thereby filling the gaps, before his or her license will be reinstated by the state of Pennsylvania.

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