ALTON – Just one year after signing landmark medical malpractice reform legislation, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and officials from Medical Protective (Medpro), a Berkshire Hathaway company, today announced the company is reducing medical malpractice insurance premiums by 32 percent statewide.
The Governor and company officials also announced that Medpro will significantly increase writing premiums in Illinois in 2007, in every area of the state. The dramatic rate reduction results from changes in underwriting practices made possible by the publication of rate data from industry peers, a key facet of the medical malpractice reform legislation signed by the Governor last year. The company’s new rates and expanded market options will become effective for policies issued on or after January 1, 2007. Other companies are expected to follow Medpro’s lead and reduce rates. Illinois doctors historically have seen little in the way of competitive insurance rates for malpractice coverage.
“I signed the medical malpractice reform law to keep doctors in our state and make health care more accessible and more affordable. Just one year later, we are seeing dramatic results. New competition in the malpractice insurance market is resulting in lower premium rates, and it’s making Illinois a state where doctors want to practice,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The 2005 Medical Malpractice Act, along with an administrative order issued by the Illinois Division of Insurance regulators in March 2006, required ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company to publicly file rate-related information, making it available to providers and underwriters for this time. The 2005 reform law also made loss and claims-related data for all carriers publicly available. These reforms make it possible for Medpro and other insurance companies to set premium rates that are competitive with other companies, and decrease insurance costs for Illinois doctors.
“The implementation of this important legislation has allowed Medical Protective to significantly reduce rates across the state,” said Mark Wittel, Vice President of Agency Sales from Medical Protective, a medical malpractice insurance company owned by Berkshire Hathaway. “The access to key industry data created by the new law, combined with our own Illinois experience, gives us the confidence to make the Illinois healthcare providers’ strongest option even more affordable.”
“Since the signing of last year's medical malpractice legislation at our facility, we have heard good news from our physician colleagues,” said Mark F. Weber, President/CEO of Saint Anthony's Health Center in Alton. “Rates are decreasing for some specialties and holding stable for others. We have had several new physicians join the medical staff of Saint Anthony's Health Center in the last six months, and we look forward to continue recruiting new physicians to the area.”
“This announcement is exactly what we hoped would happen. By requiring the state’s malpractice companies to share their risk data in a meaningful way, we’ve opened the door to more competition and lower prices,” state Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D-East St. Louis) said.
“Families will now have more access than ever to quality medical care, because practicing medicine in Illinois just became more affordable for doctors. The Medical Malpractice Act we enacted last year made meaningful changes in the way the malpractice insurance industry works in Illinois,” said state Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville). “Berkshire Medpro’s commitment to Illinois is a major step towards reducing the cost of medical malpractice insurance and keeping doctors here in Illinois.”
“Medical malpractice reform is an ongoing effort. Making sure that we allow market forces to work to our benefit is important, and today’s announcement is a confirmation that we are moving in that direction,” said state Senator John Cullerton (D-Chicago).
The law also enabled state regulators, for the first time, to hold public hearings to determine whether rate filings are justified and to deny, adjust, or limit medical malpractice rates. That provision was implemented for the first time just days after the law was signed, when ISMIE was required to explain its rate filings at an open hearing. Following that hearing, the company was required to improve transparency about how its rates are determined, return to policy holders unused premiums, and to expedite the review and settlement of open claims.