Physicians Liability Insurance Corporation (PLICO), a nonprofit insurance company that provides coverage to more than 70 percent of Oklahoma doctors plans to increase its rates this summer, but promised not to raise its premiums again until 2007.
According to the Associated Press, PLICO said it would not increase rates in 2005 or 2006, but it would need a 45 to 55 percent increase at the end of this year.
The financially troubled insurer and Hospital Causality Co. came under the supervision of the Oklahoma Insurance Commission on March 31 because they lacked the reserves to pay anticipated future claims. Both companies are paying their bills.
In the last two years, PLICO has lost $12 million.
The commission approved a new medical malpractice insurance rate plan that will take effect July 1.
The new plan is for a term of 30 months and guarantees rates in effect at the end of 2004, according to Gordon Amini, senior vice president of PLICO’s administrator CL Frates and Co.
Blaming an increase in malpractice costs, the insurance company sought to raise insurance rates for doctors by 82.8 percent. Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher agreed to a 39.5 percent increase with the remaining rate hikes being spread out over the next two years.
The new plan moves up the scheduled increases to the end of 2004 and then fixes premiums for 24 months.
Increases in medical malpractice insurance have forced some doctors to change their areas of specialty. In Enid, four obstetricians will either retire or stop delivering babies in anticipation of the increase in insurance rates.
Two recently hired obstetricians at Integris Bass Baptist Health Center in Enid agreed to deliver babies at the hospital under contracts that require the hospital to pay their malpractice insurance premiums.
Amini also indicated that it may become increasingly difficult for doctors to qualify for insurance with PLICO.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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