Texas doctors to see more insurance premium decreases

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 23, 2006

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Texas' largest medical liability insurer in September announced that a 7.5% rate reduction across all specialties will take effect Jan. 1, 2007. It's the fourth time that Texas Medical Liability Trust has reduced rates since tort reform passed in 2003.

TMLT, which insures nearly 14,000 physicians in the state, also will credit doctors' premiums with a 20% overall dividend when their policies renew next year. That equates to about $35 million.

The doctor-owned insurer attributed the savings and the drop in premiums to the state's liability reforms that established a $250,000 limit on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases. Voters also approved a constitutional amendment to adopt the cap, making it difficult for a court to overturn.

TMLT said the tort reforms have helped decrease frivolous claims, something the company expects to continue as long as the tort measures remain in effect.

Meanwhile, physicians say the reforms have helped them provide patients with better access to care, according to a report the Texas Medical Assn. released in September. In an online survey of 1,154 TMA doctors, 45% said their insurance premiums had declined by up to 20% since September 2003; 25% said their rates had dropped by more than 20%.

More than 80% of respondents said that the improved liability environment was an important factor in their decision to begin accepting high-risk cases or to provide new services to patients; 23% said they had started offering new services to their patients since September 2003. About 16% of physicians said they now accepted complex or high-risk cases that they previously referred or declined to take.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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