Register / Log In

Malpractice premiums continue their downward trend for most physicians

Tort reform and a slow economic recovery are bringing rates down, but not everyone has benefited

Malpractice insurance premiums stayed the same or declined slightly for most primary care physicians in 2011, continuing a multi-year trend and bringing some relief to physicians struggling to cope with stagnant or declining incomes.

Rob Francis
According to the Medical Economics 2012 Exclusive Malpractice Survey, mean annual premiums for family/general physicians in 2011 were $11,900 versus $12,100 in 2010, a 1.6% decrease. For internal medicine doctors, the median (midpoint) annual premium was $12,900 compared with $13,100 in 2010, a 1.5% drop. In 2009, median premiums for family and internal medicine practitioners were $12,600 and $14,100, respectively.

Overall, 50% of family/general doctors and 57% of internists reported that their premiums stayed the same or decreased from 2010 to 2011, with 16% of respondents in both categories saying their premiums increased. The remainder either did not know or didn't respond.

The survey, part of the 84th Continuing Study conducted by Medical Economics, consists of data collected from physicians in June via the Internet (see "About the survey" for more information). In addition to internal medicine and family/general practice, specialties covered in the survey and their median annual premiums were:

  • Obstetrics/gynecology: $43,400
  • Surgery: $30,000
  • Plastic surgery: $27,700
  • Urology: $23,500
  • Gastroenterology: $20,000
  • Cardiology: $19,400
  • Neurology/neurosurgery: $17,500
  • Emergency/acute care: $15,000
  • Hospitalists: $15,000
  • Ophthalmology: $12,300
  • Dermatology: $10,300
  • Pediatrics: $10,300
  • Psychiatry: $4,700

Median annual premiums for primary care physicians
Among all respondents, 50% said their malpractice premiums either stayed the same or decreased compared with 2010, 15% reported they increased, and the remainder either didn't know or did not answer.

Tort reform remains an important issue for physicians, but a survey indicates that relief may be at hand for malpractice premiums.

Want to contribute as an expert witness? Here's what you need to know

Michael K. Gusmano, PhD, co-director of the World Cities Project, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, and on faculty at New York Medical College and Columbia and Yale universities, discusses what needs to happen to improve care for vulnerable populations.

As a doctor, you can see the hardships that can occur if you don't properly save for long-term care. Learn some strategies for preparing for long-term care.

Hurricane Sandy's destruction underscores the importance of disaster planning.