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Health Insurance Hikes and Malpractice Insurance Woes Disrupt Miami Health Care

Increased Use of Services, Decreased Health Plan Price Competition Spur Premium Increases

News Release
Sept. 4, 2003

FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Alwyn Cassil: (202) 264-3484

ASHINGTON, D.C.—Rapidly rising health insurance premiums and a medical malpractice insurance meltdown threaten to decrease health insurance coverage and access to health care in Miami, according to a new Community Report released today by HSC.

Decreased health plan price competition and a shift to less restrictive health insurance products, which has contributed to more use of health care services, have spurred health insurance premium spikes ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent for many employers. Adding to these cost pressures, hospitals have continued to press for higher payment rates, and a worsening medical malpractice insurance climate has prompted many physicians to adopt more defensive approaches to clinical practice.

"Growing health plan and hospital profitability amid sharp health insurance premium increases raises serious questions about the continued affordability of health insurance for many Miami consumers," said Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., president of HSC, a nonpartisan policy research organization funded exclusively by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Other key findings of the report, Premium Hikes and Malpractice Insurance Disrupt Miami Health Care Market, include:

  • Hospital capacity constraints have intensified as inpatient admissions increase and hospitals confront persistent labor shortages.
  • Rising private insurance premiums have led some employers to encourage workers to enroll their children in public health insurance programs.
  • Expansions by the county-owned Jackson Health System and other providers have strengthened the health care safety net, but debate continues over control of county funding for indigent care.

Miami is one of 12 communities across the country tracked intensively by HSC researchers through site visits and surveys. The new report is based on an April 2003 site visit and interviews with more than 70 health care leaders, representing health plans, employers, hospitals, physicians and policy makers.

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The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research organization committed to providing objective and timely insights on the nation’s changing health system to help inform policy makers and contribute to better health care policy. HSC, based in Washington, D.C., is funded exclusively by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

 

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