Medical liability insurance rates are rising in Oregon with no indication of going back down

Medical liability insurance rates are going up in Oregon due to an increasing number of medical defense cases in the last few years, according to Jeffrey Street, co-managing partner at Hodgkinson Street Mepham LLC. 

Speaking at the Oregon Health Forum’s “Oregon’s Changing Medical Liability Insurance Market” event today, Street explained that rising costs are due to increasing case volumes and high severity of settlements.

 

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“The average medical defense case is a two-week trial and the highest claims can last up to five to six weeks. Those costs add up for the defense.”

According to Street: 

“When factoring in the costs of defending the increasing severity of claims, the national data shows over a 50% increase in costs relative to 2007.”

These rising rates are a cause of social inflation, which is a catchall term that refers to an increase in payouts due to social shifts in distrust of corporations, juror compositions and effective attorney strategies, according to Street.

Jury composition refers to the increasing presence of jurors who have distrust in corporations and will gravitate, in a medical malpractice case, towards siding with the plaintiff. Street said:

“Why are verdicts going up? There are many factors, but one factor is jury composition.” 

According to Pew Research Center, younger generations are increasingly less trusting of authority. About 73% of people under 30 believe that people and corporations only look after themselves. 

Plaintiffs are also asking for more, due to the increased economic inflation. Jurors are seeing the costs of homes and salaries rise dramatically and feel that plaintiffs need to be properly compensated, Street said. 

“The amount of money that the plaintiffs are asking for has gone absolutely through the roof.”

When asked if rates will ease within the next few years, Jennifer Millar, senior account executive at Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company, said rates might never go back down and current premiums will become “the new normal.”

“I think it is hard to predict, but I think we are going to be in this for a little while.”