State malpractice insurance upgrades coverage

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State medical malpractice officials have decided to upgrade a plan to include "prior acts" coverage and improve rates for obstetricians and gynecologists.

"I believe this upgraded plan now offered will help to provide necessary medical care in emergency rooms and maternity wards," Gov. Kenny Guinn said Wednesday.

The Medical Liability Association of Nevada was created after medical malpractice insurance rates skyrocketed, especially in Southern Nevada, and St. Paul Co., one of the biggest insurers, pulled out of the market.

Doctors said without state intervention they might not be able to get coverage. The state stepped in and created the state-operated insurance program.

But doctors said some parts of the program needed improvement. One of the biggest financial issues raised was that doctors still had to pay their old insurance company for "prior acts" coverage -- possible lawsuits from procedures before they signed on with the state plan -- and "tail" coverage -- insurance for problems from previous patients which haven't developed yet.

That coverage typically costs doctors double the amount they paid for a year's regular coverage. Guinn said the association will now offer "prior acts" coverage, which will save doctors the cost of buying the separate prior acts policy.

Doctors also said the rates charged for OB/GYN specialists were still too high to afford.

Guinn said the board of directors has approved an 18 percent reduction in rates for surgical obstetricians and gynecologists.

Finally, the association eliminated tiered premiums which discouraged OB/GYNs from delivering more than 125 babies a year by charging them more at that point.


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