It is becoming increasingly difficult for family practice physicians to even obtain medical liability insurance let alone afford it. More and more insurance companies are deciding not to underwrite any medical liability insurance. Literally, in most states there are only few who will offer it. The increasing rate of malpractice lawsuits is to blame for this. Juries are awarding multi million dollar settlements and it is forcing many doctors to close the doors on their family practices.
The problem is concurrent with other problems; doctor A closes his family practice so all of the patients rush to doctor B, now Dr. B is on overload and his patients are unhappy because of lengthy wait times and the vicious cycle continues. It has already been obvious as most family practices no longer deliver babies due to the ever rising costs of OB insurance. Also, most have stopped performing any surgical procedures because they simply can not afford the insurance premiums.
This does not work like auto insurance either, regardless if a doctor has had a malpractice lawsuit against him or not, the premiums remain the same as well as whether or not the carrier will even write the policy. This is certainly posing a problem for family practice doctors or doctors in general who have to limit the scope of their services. Doctors are literally becoming afraid of assisting high risk patients because of the consequences and ramifications that could follow.
If something does not change soon what will happen is people will not be able to get health care when it is most needed and it is due to two factors: availability of liability insurance and affordability. Another result from this is that most family practices who were always about to receive discount health insurance reimbursements such as Medicaid and such, no longer can because they can not simply afford to. Liability insurance companies simply claim that there is zero stability in the market of liability insurance due to the puerile lawsuits and the astronomical awards that juries are handing out.
This is causing family practices and doctors everywhere to watch every move that they make to avoid being sued. It is further raising medical costs because a doctor is running countless and sometimes unnecessary tests to ensure his medical security. All of these possible unneeded tests take money away from those who really need medical treatment. Now guess who ends up having to foot the bill for all of this? The government and the taxpayers.
Then, this process affects employers because they no longer want to provide employee insurance or cut the insurance that they do offer because rates climb so high that they can not afford it either. The only foreseeable way to get the system back on track is to begin with eliminating the numerous amounts of petty lawsuits. Beginning with this will perhaps get the system back on track and instill some validity back into America hence, achieving the ultimate goal which is to provide everyone with quality health care and instill the values of family practice.