Malpractice Insurance Crunch

December 19, 1975

Report Outline
Effect of Litigation on Health Care
Survey of Past Malpractice Issues
The Lawmakers' Search for Answers
Special Focus

Effect of Litigation on Health Care

Strike for Increase in Malpractice Lawsuitsd

The current escalation in medical malpractice insurance rates poses a threat to health care in America. Doctors are indignant that premiums have been doubling and tripling, and some have organized to fight back. In Southern California, a group of physicians has warned it will strike in protest of an increase scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. There seem to be no easy answers to this multi-layered problem in which the patient is the ultimate loser. It has been tackled, however, in several states and it promises to be high on the agenda in many of the 37 legislatures that meet in January.

As early as 1969, a congressional committee had warned doctors, hospitals and insurance companies of increasing malpractice litigation and rising jury awards in many states. The issue also received national attention in 1973 when the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's Commission on Medical Malpractice published its final report. But the federal government gave the recommendations little attention.

Malpractice insurance premiums continued to climb, and by last spring the problem reached crisis proportions. New York's leading malpractice insurer doubled its rates in 1974, and early in 1975 asked the state's permission to triple the new rates. In some other states, requested increases ran as high as 700 per cent. Alaska, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan and North Carolina were among those states that were hit hardest. In California, Texas, Florida and New York, some doctors went on strike in protest of the increases. Many insurance companies threatened to end malpractice coverage altogether in some states if their requests for higher premiums were not met. By this time, several states had begun to take action.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Feb. 14, 2003  Medical Malpractice
Feb. 25, 2000  Medical Mistakes
Dec. 19, 1975  Malpractice Insurance Crunch
Nov. 08, 1952  Suppression of Medical Abuses
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Insurance Industry
Medical Profession and Personnel