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Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Insurance
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Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Insurance

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"I found very simple and easy to use. When I relocated to Pennsylvania, CoverMD connected me with an excellent medical malpractice insurance agent who was able to help me find the exact coverage I was looking for."

Erik Langenau, DO
Havertown, PA

Malpractice Insurance Rates in Pennsylvania

As a doctor practicing in Pennsylvania there are a number of different important factors that go into determining your medical malpractice insurance rate (e.g. New to practice, Full-time vs. Part-time, Occurrence or Claims Made).

In order to ensure that you have the right coverage at the best price simply submit your free quote request today and a friendly liability consultant experienced in helping Pennsylvania doctors will be glad to review all your options with you. Eliminate all the stress and headaches from finding the best coverage for your practice needs!

Get a no-obligation price comparison with your current med mal policy.
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Pennsylvania's Medical Liability Climate

Pennsylvania’s medical liability climate is one of the most complex of all 50 states. In fact, in a recent Harvard School of Public Health report described the Keystone State as being in the midst of an “extreme-level” medical liability crisis. Doctors in Pennsylvania are faced with some of the highest medical malpractice insurance rates in the country, and for the many physicians that cannot afford to pay those premiums, the only resolve has been to retire or move to an adjacent state.

To better understand the current condition of Pennsylvania’s medical liability climate, it is necessary to look back at the years leading up to the Mcare Act of 2002.

The Malpractice Insurance Crisis

At the start of the decade in 2000, most members of the medical field recognized that Pennsylvania was drowning in a liability crisis. Hospitals across southeastern Pennsylvania were having difficulty keeping certain specialists on staff because of fear of lawsuits and skyrocketing insurance costs; all the maternity wards in Northeast Philadelphia had closed; and Chester County did not have a single emergency neurosurgeon. The high volume of malpractice cases saddled most Philadelphia-area doctors with malpractice insurance premiums exceeding $100,000 annually, while million-dollar-plus jury verdicts were becoming increasingly common.

This malpractice problem and its effects appeared to be accelerating each year. In 2001, 704 medical school residents stayed in Pennsylvania after completing their residency training; by 2003, that number had fallen to 285. People within the Pennsylvania medical community rightly began to worry about their citizens’ current and future access to healthcare.

The Mcare Act

Acknowledging that Pennsylvania was rapidly approaching an access-to-care tipping point, the state legislature passed Act 13, the “Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (Mcare) Act” of 2002. The detailed legislation reformed mandatory medical professional liability insurance amounts; replaced the existing CAT Fund that covered catastrophic loss liability with the Insurance Department-supervised Mcare Fund; enacted certain tort reforms that required a certificate of merit, ended “venue shopping” as well as capped punitive damages; and ushered in new requirements in the area of patient safety, including the establishment of a Patient Safety Authority. Initially, the Mcare Act provided modest savings to general practitioners and slightly more for specialists through discounts on surcharges and assessments.

Physicians were still required to maintain medical professional liability insurance; however, in 2003, the maximum required coverage was reduced to $1 million per occurrence, from $1.2 million ($500,000 in basic coverage and $700,000 from the CAT Fund to $500,000 basic coverage and $500,000 from the new Mcare Fund in 2003). Aggregate annual limits were also lowered.

The Mcare Act’s tort reforms are intended to have a long-term, positive effect on the medical liability system where positive effects would occur in future years, with the full impact of the savings realized three to five years down the road. In particular, the act limits when awards of punitive damages may be made and specifically provides that, if punitive damages are awarded, the damages may not exceed 200 percent of the compensatory damages awarded. The minimum punitive damage award that may be made is $100,000 (unless a lower verdict amount is returned). The plaintiff would receive 75 percent of the punitive damage award and 25 percent would be paid to the Mcare Fund. This would be used to offset medical professional liability surcharges.

Of special significance to the Mcare Act is that it grants power of remittitur to the courts(i.e. allows the court to reduce a jury verdict that is deemed to be excessive). In deciding a motion to reduce a jury verdict on the ground that the award is excessive (a motion for remittitur), the court is required to consider the availability or access to healthcare if the defendant physician is required to satisfy the verdict. The intent of this provision is to permit doctors and hospitals to have verdicts lowered by a judge if it would force a doctor out of business or force a hospital to cut services, thereby damaging the community.

Measurable Progress Is Being Made

While Pennsylvania continues to be considered a medical liability “crisis state,” many consider the Keystone State’s Mcare Act a measurable success. In May 2011, Ronald Castille, Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, announced that medical malpractice case filings and verdicts in Pennsylvania declined again in 2010, the sixth consecutive year that declines have been recorded. In 2010, there were 1,491 filings, representing a 45.4 percent decline from the “base years” 2000- 2002. The judicial district with the state’s largest caseload (Philadelphia) saw a decline of nearly 70 percent during the same period.

Perhaps the greatest proof is in the premiums. While Pennsylvania still ranks as one of the top states for medical malpractice insurance rates, both the cost of primary coverage with one of the state’s largest medmal insurers, and Mcare surcharges have experienced declines since 2005. In 2008, a large insurance company serving Pennsylvania announced an immediate, overall 11-percent rate reduction for its physician insureds. Another carier soon followed suit by lowering its premiums by 6 percent, effect July 1, 2008.

Latest Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Insurance News

June 2011
On June 28, 2001 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law Senate Bill 1131 ("Fair Share Act") with the goal of encouraging a more positive environment for physicians and healthcare providers in the state when it comes to medical liability.
Read more from our blog about the Fair Share Act.

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