A new study is out that claims higher malpractice insurance rates for doctors are a function of insurance company price-gouging, rather than a claimed “medical malpractice crisis”. The study tracked trends for the nation’s top 15 medical malpractice insurers over the past several years. The study shows that net paid claims fell 14.7% from 2000 until 2006. Insurers’ incurred losses dropped 48% from 2003 to 2006, with two insurers reporting a drop of 80% in incurred losses.

Between 2003 and 2006, surpluses grew 43%. During this same time period premiums rose sharply. In 2006 the insurers reported a 31.4% loss ratio. That means 61% of every dollar the insurer collects in premiums goes to expenses and profits.

Jon Haber, head of the AAJ, the organization that commissioned the study, summed up the report’s findings by saying:

“Medical malpractice insurance companies have been price-gouging doctors, padding their pockets with excessive premiums and driving up the cost of health care. Cynically, these same insurance companies have been blaming high premiums on a so-called ‘malpractice crisis’ that doesn’t exist. We have an insurance crisis, not a medical malpractice crisis.”