Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
WASHINGTON, March 20 -- The American Association for Justice issued the following news release:
As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to vote on an extreme medical liability bill (H.R. 5), a new report reveals that the average profit margin for the top 10 medical malpractice insurers is twice as high as 50 of the most profitable Fortune 500 companies.
The report from the American Association for Justice (AAJ) found that by systematically distorting profits and losses, insurers created phony malpractice insurance "crises" so lawmakers would consider limiting the legal rights of injured patients. Years later, insurers would revise their projected losses downward - meaning profits for prior years were even higher than thought.
"While health care costs skyrocket, Congress should not give another handout to malpractice insurers that have average profits higher than 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies," said AAJ President Gary M. Paul. "Congress needs to focus on patient safety, not efforts that will pad the pockets of insurance companies at the expense of Americans' legal rights."
These facts are well known by the medical malpractice industry. At the annual meeting of the Physician Insurers Association of America in 2011, James Hurley, an actuary with Towers Watson, commented on the strengths and enormous profitability of the industry:
"And folks looking at this line of business from the outside, folks looking at this line as a profit maker, have got to be looking at this line over the last four or five years and saying, 'that is almost like printing money. How do I get some of that?'"
The report also shows that H.R. 5 and other state-based liability proposals have been debated under false pretenses, while medical malpractice insurers have made astronomical profits on the backs of injured patients and the very doctors they were supposed to serve.
AAJ's report, The Reserving Practices and Record Profits of Large Medical Malpractice Insurers, can be found online here (PDF).http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xbcr/justice/Reserving_Practices_and_Record_Profits_2012.pdf
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