Medical Malpractice News

Rising Cost of OB/GYN Medical Malpractice Insurance

Tags: | Comments: 0 | February 3rd, 2011

The cost of OB/GYN medical malpractice insurance is rising rapidly with every passing year. Medical malpractice premiums have many factors that go into determining the premium; specialty, risk, location, part time, full time, and existing claims. But, one factor always stays the same – medical malpractice insurance for OB/GYN physicians will always have expensive premiums.  OB/GYN physicians also have the longest “tail” exposure and expensive tail coverage costs.

In most states there is a two year statute of limitations to file a medical malpractice claim.  However, most states have a stipulation that states the injured party has two years from “time of discovery” to file their claim.  In addition, the two years statute of limitation does not start until the injured party reaches the age of eighteen.

This means that OB/GYN patients theoretically have up to twenty-one years to file a medical malpractice claim.  Medical malpractice insurance companies that insure OB/GYN physicians assume a much more risk due to the long period of time that patients have to file a claim.  Here are examples of how much OB/GYN malpractice insurance premiums fluctuate from state to state.

The High-Cost States for Obstetricians and Gynecologists

The medical malpractice insurance rates are the highest in states like Nevada and Florida.  The malpractice premiums vary depending upon the specific field of specialization. As per the last year statistics, Obstetricians and gynecologists have been the ones who paid the highest rates, ranging from $85,000 to as much as $200,000.  A doctor in internal medicine is also expected to pay over $20,000 per year.

The Low-Cost States for Obstetricians and Gynecologists

California and Minnesota are among some of the states where medical malpractice insurance costs are the lowest.  General surgeons in the state of California are currently paying between $20,000 and $32,000; In Minnesota, the annual premium is $10000. Obstetricians and gynecologists are the highest in California; it is costing doctors over $50,000 per year, which is still much lower as compared to other states.  However, obstetricians and gynecologists who are practicing in Minnesota can be as low as $15,000.

What Does All of This Mean for OB/GYN Medical Malpractice Insurance?

This raises the question of whether or not there should be a national cap for non-economic damages and punitive damages.  Obstetricians and gynecologists are reeling under steep medical malpractice insurance premiums, demanding a solution.

Between the years of 1985 and 2000, obstetricians and gynecologists had more claims against them and paid out more money to plaintiffs than any other medical specialty.  Why?  There is more risk associated to their practice. Of course obstetricians and gynecologists should have a higher premium rate than a family practice physician because the risk of injury is so much higher, however some have the opinion that there needs to be a limit.

Before Florida passed its medical liability cap, obstetricians and gynecologists paid over $200,000 annually for Florida medical malpractice insurance.  California, however, has a state wide liability cap which greatly reduced the price of malpractice insurance to an average of $57,000.  For this reason, obstetricians and gynecologists are leaving their practices in states where the premiums are too high and moving to lower cost states.  This makes sense.  Why would an OB/GYN want to pay $200,000 when they could move across state lines to only pay $57,000?  If the trend continues, some states could be in a crisis with not having enough physicians available.

Not only did the malpractice cap allow for California medical malpractice insurance premiums to become more affordable, it also cut the number of medical malpractice suits dramatically.  With the cap in place, frivolous lawsuits decreased because it was not to the plaintiff’s advantage to take a case to trial.  The goal of tort reform statues is the assumption that too many tort claims are filed and that court awards tend to be excessive.  Such claims consist of punitive damages, which are used to penalize a defendant for willful and wanton conduct.

Pain and suffering is another common claim used against doctors and hospitals.  Tort reforms propose to limit the amount that can be awarded for such non-economic damages, as well as to aim to make it less worthwhile to pursue minor cases.  Thus in turn, reduces the number of medical malpractice cases.  Other tort reforms seek to limit liability by making it more difficult to pursue cases against multiple defendants.  Still other reforms focus on procedural changes, again making it less likely that marginal cases will be pursued.

OB/GYN medical malpractice insurance will always have the highest premiums in regards to the specialty, but premiums should not differentiate as much as they do from state to state.  High insurance premiums should not be the reason for doctors practicing medicine to be fleeing their state.

If you are an OB/GYN, eQuoteMD can help you lower find quality coverage without the expensive price tag. Request your free, no-obligation medical malpractice insurance quote today and see how much you could really save. Even if you are in the middle of your current policy, you can still switch and save. Focus on patient care while we shop the market for you. What are you waiting for? Request your quote now!