Cause of Malpractice Insurance Rate Hikes Debated

Laramie, Wy – A study of medical malpractice insurance in Wyoming over the last 30 years links higher premiums to the economy, not lawsuits.
The analysis was conducted by Americans for Insurance Reform, based in New York City.
It concludes that the legal system is not to blame for rising premiums that doctors pay for coverage.
Instead, the study says rates are influenced by the strength of the national economy or lack thereof, rather than increases or decreases in the amount companies pay in jury awards and settlements.
The report says insurance companies raise rates to compensate for falling interest rates and investment losses.
The study's release comes as the Legislature readies for a debate on a proposed constitutional amendment allowing limits on damage awards in malpractice suits.
Susie Wacker is spokeswoman for the Wyoming Medical Society, a physicians group which supports the amendment.
She says the group behind the study is proposing no new reforms in the insurance industry, and is only recycling an old argument.
Wacker also says a separate report by an insurance-asset management firm found no correlation between malpractice premiums and the economy.