South FL is capital for MDs without malpractice insurance

Thanks in part to a state law letting physicians go without malpractice insurance, South Florida has become the nation's capital for doctors who have chosen to "go bare," experts say. Almost one-quarter of doctors in the region's Broward and Palm Beach counties and more than one-third in the Miami area opt out of malpractice insurance, according to a state physician database. This is double the rate of physicians without medical malpractice insurance in 2003.

Unlike other states, Florida has let its doctors go without malpractice for decades, though chiropractors, podiatrists, midwives, some nurses, acupuncturists and optometrists are required to carry such insurance. Doctors were exempted in an effort to spare them high insurance premiums, which currently run as high as $50,000 a year for family doctors and more than $200,000 per year for high-risk specialists. Critics of the law, meanwhile, say that the opt-out rule makes it unlikely that patients can collect enough money to cover their losses if they are injured by a physician.

Since the law allowing doctors to skip med mal insurance has passed, legislators passed a measure capping pain-and-suffering awards to $500,000 for injuries or $1 million in cases resulting in death. Once the law was enacted, premiums have gone down yearly by less than 10 percent. Still, Florida's premiums are the nation's highest, according to a national survey.

To learn more about Florida's med-mal situation:
- read this South Florida Sun-Sentinel piece

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