Soaring Med-Mal Rates Forcing Doctors Out of Ariz.

April 26, 2004

Doctors are leaving Arizona because of skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance premiums, according to the Tucson Citizen. Some physicians cannot find affordable insurance and surrounding states with lower premiums are becoming more enticing.

Hand surgeons in the area have been hard hit by the rising costs, with five of Tucson’s six hand surgeons being forced to decide whether to retire or leave the state by July 1. Southwest Hand Center was dropped from its insurance carrier and is currently searching for a new one. If the Center is able to find new insurance, it will be approximately 300 percent higher than the premium it pays its current insurer, according to Dr. David B. Siegel.

One of only three pediatric surgeons in Tucson wasn’t able to find affordable medical malpractice insurance after losing coverage, but Tucson Medical Center bought the private practice and now pays for the doctor’s insurance.

According to the executive director of Pima County Medical Society, an obstetrician is relocating his practice to Indiana because of the inability to find affordable coverage.

Other doctors are going into retirement early because of the high cost of “tail” policies. Physicians must buy tail policies because lawsuits may be filed against them during their retirement. Tail coverage costs about twice as much as the last annual premium, so one Northwest surgeon wants to get out now before premiums go up even more.

The president of Pima County Medical Society, Dr. Leonard Ditmanson, said that some surgeons have seen their premiums go from $33,000 to $88,000.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.