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New Study Shows Lower Malpractice Premiums For Most Mass. Doctors

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A new study shows Massachusetts doctors are paying less in malpractice suits today than they were in 1990, when adjusted for inflation. This conclusion refutes the assertion that high malpractice rates are sending doctors out of the state of Massachusetts, which ranks fourth in the nation for money paid to settlement cases. The lead author of the study also argues that if a crisis is not found in Massachusetts, a crisis will probably not be found nationally either. According to the American Medical Association, Massachusetts is also one of twenty-one states described as being in crisis due to high medical malpractice payments and the fact that the state does not have strict laws that put a cap on these settlements. With such high settlements, it would be expected that physicians pay high premiums. The study shows, however, that in 2005 physicians paid an average of $17,810, which was a little lower than the $17,907 the same coverage would have cost in 1990, adjusting for inflation. National figures from the American Medical Association show premiums only make up about seven percent of total practice costs for all physicians and 12.7 percent for obstetrician/gynecologists, since this specialty has seen a slight increase in premiums.

It is still very difficult for doctors to practice in the state of Massachusetts, even if rates are not out of control, due to the high price of housing and doing business. Premiums are only a small part of the pressure on physicians. Looking at high malpractice premiums might be giving a skewed picture of what is really going on. http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/05/13/most_mass_doctors_face_lower_cost_for_malpractice_coverage/