NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Retiring Doctors Making Georgia Patients Sick

January 30, 2003

Nearly one in five Georgia doctors are abandoning high-risk medical procedures, including delivering babies, and hundreds more are leaving the state or retiring because of high medical malpractice insurance rates, according to a new study by the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce.

A survey of 2,200 Georgia doctors by the board found that:

  • About 2,800 Georgia doctors -- or nearly 18 percent -- expect to stop providing high-risk procedures to limit their liability.
  • Nearly one in three obstetrician/gynecologists surveyed said they will abandon high-risk procedures, such as delivering babies.
  • About 11 percent of Georgia doctors have stopped or will stop providing emergency room services, and 4 percent have decided to leave the state or retire because of high insurance rates, the study said.

In June, the American Medical Association said Georgia was one of 12 "crisis'' states where rising insurance costs could lead doctors to leave or limit their practices.

Georgia requires medical liability insurance for doctors to practice there, and the prices are high.

  • The 2002 rates reported by the doctors surveyed ranged from just under $8,000 a year for psychiatry to more than $60,000 for neurosurgery.
  • Obstetricians reported paying nearly $50,000, and the doctors reported prices increasing anywhere from 11 percent to 30 percent in the last year.
  • About 13 percent of doctors had difficulty finding malpractice insurance coverage, and one in five changed insurance carriers last year, the study said.

Source: Associated Press, "Study: Insurance Rates Affect Ga. Care," New York Times, January 26, 2003; based on Georgia Board for Physician Workforce, Saturday, January 25, 2003.


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