While state lawmakers work to help doctors, Insurance Commissioner George Dale says he talks everyday with different companies, trying to encourage them to write policies in Mississippi. Dale says there's one catch with most of those companies.
"Most of them are what we call non-admitted approved insurance companies which means that their rates are not approved or not regulated by our department but it's in an effort to provide a market. I wish we could provide a market at a more affordable rate but right now the major thrust is to provide a market period."
Until a market is available, Dale says an insurance pool is a quick fix to get all doctors covered.
"In the bill that's floating in both houses as of right now, it does not have any hard fast caps on non-economic damages and if the doctors feel like this is going to give them relief by affordability, they're being misled. This is strictly an insurer of last resort for those who can't find it at any price."
Dale says insurance is a cyclical business, and he says right now we're in a bad cycle.
"If we can make it through 2003, it will be unpleasant for the doctors and the general public as it relates to insurance but 2004, as these lawsuits make it through the system and get adjudicated or dropped, whatever, 2004 you'll see insurance begin to level out and in some cases probably begin to get back in a reasonable and affordable rate."
Dale says he knows waiting until next year for better rates could come too late for some doctors, but right now he says that's the best he can predict.
Dale's office conducted a poll in December of Mississippi's 5000 doctors. 2000 doctors responded and of that number, only 38 doctors reported they couldn't get insurance. Dales says most doctors who responded were more concerned about the cost of the coverage rather than the availability.
By Marcia Hill
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