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High Cost, More Uninsured and Malpractice Insurance Woes Stress Miami

Nearly One-Third of Residents Uninsured, Straining Safety Net Providers

News Release
Dec. 30, 2005

FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Alwyn Cassil (202) 264-3484 or acassil@hschange.org

WASHINGTON, DC—Exceptionally high health care costs, low levels of health insurance coverage and a difficult medical malpractice insurance environment for physicians and hospitals continue to stress the Miami health care market, according to a new Community Report released today by the Center for Studying Health System Change.

The high cost of medical malpractice insurance has led more physicians to go without coverage, turn down high-risk patients and decline to take call in hospital emergency departments. In addition, because physicians are providing more services in settings other than hospitals, relationships between hospitals and physicians have started to deteriorate.

"The combination of high costs, more uninsured people and a tough malpractice insurance climate poses significant barriers to care for many of Miami’s most vulnerable residents," said Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., president of HSC, a nonpartisan policy research organization funded principally by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Other key findings of the report, Uninsured Patients, Malpractice Insurance Woes Stress Miami Health Care Market, which is available here, include:

  • Specialist physicians have joined single-specialty groups to open diagnostic and surgical centers and to enhance negotiating power with health insurers.
  • Rising employer demand for lower-cost, less-comprehensive alternatives to the still-dominant health maintenance organization (HMO) products have helped national insurers make inroads over local plans.
  • Financial challenges at county-owned Jackson Memorial Hospital have prompted reforms to preserve the hospital’s ability to serve as Miami’s primary safety net hospital.

Miami is one of 12 communities across the country tracked intensively by HSC researchers through site visits. The new report is based on a June 2005 site visit and interviews with more than 65 Miami 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 research 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 principally by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

 

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