The December 31, 2008 Medical Malpractice Insurance In The Massachusetts Market Report reported that the total Massachusetts medical malpractice premiums increased from $198 million in 2001 to $301 million in 2007 (an increase of over 50% in six years). Over the past few years, Massachusetts medical malpractice insurers’ net operating ratios – company expenses compared to premiums – declined from 149.5% in 2001 to 84.3% in 2007, fewer companies left the market, and average rates increased only gradually.
In 2006, there were over 225,000 individual health care professionals licensed by Massachusetts (including 130,283 nurses, 20,740 medical and osteopathic doctors, 6,925 dentists, 5,183 psychologists, 2,145 chiropractors, 1,692 physician assistants, and 569 podiatrists). In addition, there were almost 1,400 facilities and programs licensed to operate in Massachusetts.
It is a specific requirement of licensure that medical doctors have medical malpractice coverage sufficient to protect against claims of at least $100,000 per occurrence and $300,000 per year and that chiropractors are required to have coverage of at least $500,000 per occurrence and $1.0 million per year.
On an industry basis, licensed insurance companies had incurred claims – those amounts that were reserved for claims that were open in the current year as well as amounts paid out for claims during a year – of $93.1 million 2007 – 3.4% less than the $96.2 million incurred in 2004 and 41.3% less than the $158.4 million incurred in 2001.
Many licensed insurance companies use loss ratios (incurred losses divided by earned premium) to predict the underwriting success or failure of property insurance companies and assume that the lower the loss ratio, the higher the company’s profit. The calculated loss ratios for Massachusetts medical malpractice companies declined from 113.0% in 2001 to 52.4% in 2007 (the loss ratios on a national basis for all medical malpractice companies declined from 100.4% in 2001 to 41.6% in 2007).
Massachusetts continued to have high average payouts compared to that of other states. In 2006, the average Massachusetts medical malpractice payment made on behalf of practitioners was $465,236; the median payment was $300,000. When examining claim payments made over the sixteen years between September 1, 1990 and December 31, 2006, Massachusetts’ median payment was the second highest nationally, only behind that of Illinois.
For the period between 1994 and 2003, the physician category with the highest proportion of professionals having reported paid claims was the obstetrics and gynecology category. Over 20% of physicians practicing obstetrics or gynecology experienced at least one claim between 1994 and 2003. The average paid claim between 1994 and 2003 for obstetrical and gynecological care was over $400,000, which accounted for 23.1% of all claims reported to have been paid by medical doctors in this period.
The number of licensed physicians in Massachusetts increased from 20,554 in 2001 to 20,740 in 2007 and the numbers also increased in almost every county in Massachusetts. Licensed family practice, general medicine, and internal medicine physicians increased from 5,274 in 2001 to 5,595 in 2007. Licensed emergency room physicians increased from 706 in 2001 to 799 in 2007. The number of licensed obstetricians and gynecologists decreased from 935 in 2001 to 856 in 2007.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of negligently provided medical care in Massachusetts or in any other U.S. state, use our website to connect with local medical malpractice attorneys who may be able to assist you with your claim or call us toll free at 800-295-3959.