Local News

Some Physicians At Risk Of Losing Insurance Coverage

Posted October 16, 2001

— The terrorist attacks have pushed insurance companies to the limit. Even before Sept. 11, many companies were dropping clients they consider high-risk. The new trend could make it harder to find someone to deliver your baby.

Dr. John Schmitt has an OB-GYN practice with five other doctors in Raleigh. The doctors deliver 90 to 100 babies a month. Without malpractice insurance, they could not help bring babies into the world.

"I think health care is facing a crisis," says Schmitt.

Recently, the company which furnishes the doctors malpractice insurance gave notice that it would no longer cover obstetricians.

"While we were in the process of negotiating prices, terms, the Sept. 11 tragedy occurred and compounded everything," says Schmitt.

Insurance agent Steve Lipstone says that there are cycles where premiums go up and down. Lipstone says the trend is to stop offering malpractice insurance in high-risk professions.

"Litigation is a big factor," he says. "If you see more litigation in a profession, premiums are going to change."

Schmitt's practice just signed with a new insurance company at more than double the cost of the old policy.

"It is such an amazing increase in cost and it's so abrupt, we'll never recoup that," he says.

While his practice is big enough to keep going, Schmitt worries that the trend will force smaller groups out of the baby business.

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