Friday, July 08, 2005

A New York Times story you probably didn't read yesterday:

Study Says Malpractice Payouts Aren't Rising

...A study to be released today by the Center for Justice and Democracy, ... compiled from regulatory filings by insurers to state regulators, finds that net claims for medical malpractice paid by 15 leading insurance companies have remained flat over the last five years, while net premiums have surged 120 percent.

From 2000 to 2004, the increase in premiums collected by the leading 15 medical malpractice insurance companies was 21 times the increase in the claims they paid, according to the study....

"In recent years, medical malpractice hasn't been unprofitable but it's been phenomenally profitable," said Jay Angoff, the former state insurance commissioner of Missouri and a consultant on the study.

Profitable? Apparently:

Of the 15 companies examined, ... 3 are publicly traded and focus primarily on medical malpractice. The stock prices of those three companies have each risen more than 100 percent since May 2002.

We are told, of course, that these statistics are not to be trusted:

Insurance industry officials ... say that it is unfair to compare the premiums that insurance companies charge with claims paid, because it often takes 8 to 10 years for the claims to materialize, so companies have to set aside extra reserves.

But weren't we being told that malpractice claims were out of control years ago? Wasn't that the message we were hearing, oh, say, 8 or 10 years ago?

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