Malpractice Rates to Go Up for Some

November 20, 2003

Despite the passage in September of Proposition 12, which approved a legislative measure designed to lower malpractice insurance rates for doctors, at least two of the five major carriers providing that coverage in Texas reportedly plan to increase their rates.

According to reports in the Houston Chronicle, the cost of premiums will either go up or stay the same for many of the state’s physicians next year. Only one carrier has indicated to the Texas Department of Insurance that it will decrease premiums in the coming year.

TDI had estimated that doctors’ premiums would drop between 8.5 percent and 11.5 percent as a result of the passage of the measure. However, the Chronicle reported that GE Medical Protective and the Joint Underwriting Association, the nonprofit insurer of last resort created by the legislature, indicated their rates will increase by 19 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

Proposition 12 amended the Texas Constitution to cap noneconomic damages in medical liability cases. The measure, which was opposed by trial lawyers and many consumer groups, was largely supported by insurers and physicians who blamed skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates on frivolous lawsuits and unreasonably high jury awards.

Texas Medical Liability Trust, which covers one-third of the physicians in Texas and is the larges underwriter of med-mal insurance in the state, has agreed to lower its rates by 12 percent beginning Jan. 1. The insurer reportedly increased its rates by 128 percent between 1999 and 2003.

The rate increases are regarded by some to be the result of med-mal litigation filed before and after the passage of Proposition 12, the Chronicle reported.

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