Doctors Should Fight Insurers Not Patients
Santa Monica, CA -- Patient and consumer advocates said doctors should not walk out on patients in order to lower their medical malpractice rates. Instead of sacrificing their patients' health, doctors should take steps to reform the insurance industry.
"Instead of committing medical terrorism, doctors should be sabotaging insurance company price gouging by pushing for insurance industry reform," said Doug Heller with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).
With doctors on the verge of walking off the job in various states, FTCR suggested five ways doctors can strike against their insurance companies instead of patients:
- Demand that their insurance company opens their financial books and stop reckless investment practices.
- Call for the end of insurance companies' federal and state exemptions from anti-trust laws, so insurers must compete.
- Create a national not-for-profit insurance company that insures every doctor in the nation and, because of the size of the risk pool, should have premiums that cost no more than $9,000/ year on average.
- Insist that any reform legislation includes a mandatory rate rollback, a rate freeze and an automatic 20% discount to good doctors. (California's insurance reform Proposition 103 forced malpractice insurers to refund $135 million to policyholders without limiting victims' rights.)
- Push for insurance rate reform, like Proposition 103, which dramatically reduced rates in California after its passage in 1988.
In 1988 California voters enacted the nation's toughest insurance reform law, known as Proposition 103. Immediately after enactment, medical malpractice insurance premiums in California fell dramatically and have remained stable ever since. After passage of the law, the state's insurers refunded more than $1 billion to insurance consumers including more than $135 million from medical malpractice insurers. Under California's law insurance companies must justify any proposed insurance increases and doctors or other citizens can challenge any proposed rate change. FTCR is currently challenging a 15% rate hike proposed by California's second largest medical malpractice insurer, SCPIE, which was supposed to increase doctors' rates on January 1, but did not as a result of FTCR's challenge.