The largest medical malpractice insurance company for medical malpractice claims against physicians and surgeons in the United States is The Doctors Company. The Doctors Company had 71,572 members, $4,060,651,000 in assets, and $1,228,237,000 in member surplus for 2010. The Doctors Company is so profitable that in 2011, it announced a $23 million dividend for its members. Since 1976, it has paid over $207 million in dividends, including over $100 million in the last five years alone.
The Doctors Company reports that it pays damages in only 18% of the medical malpractice claims made against its members. The Doctors Company boasts that it has “influenced the tort reform debate in the U.S. for over 35 years. And we remain the leader in tort reform nationwide…”
In 2007, The Doctors Company created what it calls its “Tribute Plan,” which “reward[s] our members for their loyalty…” As an example of how the Tribute Plan benefits its members financially, The Doctors Company provides an example of an internist whose medical practice joined The Doctors Company in 2010. The internist’s $20,000 annual medical malpractice insurance premium would result in a balance of $65,000 in the internist’s Tribute Plan account upon retirement in 25 years. The Doctors Company reported that its members have over $175 million in their Tribute Plan accounts. The Doctors Company estimated that 29% of the medical malpractice insurance premiums collected in 2010 were contributed to Tribute Plan accounts.
The Doctors Company emphasizes that it provides the most “relentless” and “the industry’s most aggressive” defense of medical malpractice claims against its members, creating an atmosphere in which The Doctors Company has self-proclaimed “their resolve to fight rather than settle.”
With such self-proclaimed aggressiveness, all-out defensive attitude, and overriding desire to fight medical malpractice claims against its members, one must wonder how many clearly valid, indefensible medical malpractice claims made against its members are nonetheless challenged and denied at great financial and emotional expense to the innocent victims of the medical malpractice committed by The Doctors Company’s members.
The Doctors Company appears to be a very wealthy medical malpractice insurance company based on its own financial reports: The Doctors Company’s net income increased from $190,289,000 in 2009 to $438,432,000 in 2010.
If medical malpractice insurance companies such as The Doctors Company enjoy such large and growing assets, profits, and premium surpluses, why is further medical malpractice tort reform necessary or desirable? Why are the medical malpractice insurance premiums charged to doctors increasing if the profits and assets of the medical malpractice insurance companies are rising? (One must wonder if The Doctors Company’s Tribute Plan is causing medical malpractice insurance premiums to remain artificially high by crediting premium surpluses to its members’ Tribute Plans instead of lowering its members’ yearly medical malpractice insurance rates by an equal amount.)
Where’s the public (and doctor) outrage when the medical malpractice insurance companies are pocketing billions in profits and assets yet they are raising their medical malpractice insurance rates to their insureds?
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