To the Editor:
As a practicing pediatrician, my concern is and always will be about the well-being of my patients.
Pediatricians are very grateful to have a chance to provide medical care. As time goes by, we gain parents' trust to give advice on parenting from the simple to the very complex, and to support the child and his family.
Over the years I have seen my practice grow and have never turned a patient down based on his insurance and have never dropped a patient because of no insurance. Lately, the main concern on my mind has been increasing malpractice insurance rates. A couple of days ago I opened my mail to see my insurance jumping from $23,000 to $33,000--an astonishing increase of more than 30 percent.
Interestingly, I have a clean malpractice record.
This increase by the insurance company cannot be justified in any way. There has not been an increase in lawsuits by 30 percent in our county, nor has my medical practice increased by 30 percent, nor will that increase make up for the insurance company'a loss in the stock market from southern Illinois doctors.
If our area is such a dangerous place to practice medicine, the logical thing would be to drop the area all together. What percentage of insurance business do we make up on the national scale? In reality the motivation driving insurance companies can only be explained by greed, not sound business logic. The companies are not forced by the law to sell insurance in southern Illinois. Actually, it's the opposit--they are free to stop taking new clients.
The insurance companies, or what is left of them selling insurance to our medical community, are manipulating the market with their standard increase and apparently there is no regulation that can put a limit on that or investigate it.
It is relatively easy for a subspecialist to pack and leave since he basically depends on the primary care givers. On the other hand, for primary care givers, the move is heart-breaking because the doctor has spent years with most of his patients. It is truly time that something is done legally to help solve this issue, to help put the brakes on the outrageous demands by the insurance companies.