Governor Haley Barbour announced today that the state’s largest provider of medical malpractice insurance has lowered its rates once again, further proof that tort reform continues to benefit the citizens of Mississippi.

Ridgeland-based Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi (MACM) reduced its medical liability insurance rates across the board by 20 percent for 2009. This is the fourth consecutive annual rate reduction and returns the premiums that Mississippi physicians pay for malpractice insurance to rates comparable to those paid in 2002.

“Once again, Mississippi doctors are seeing relief from high insurance bills thanks to meaningful tort reform in 2004,” Governor Barbour said. “I thank MACM for their continued efforts to help make malpractice insurance affordable so doctors will keep their doors open and provide access to health care for all Mississippians.”

In addition to a reduction in rates, tort reform has opened the door for better accessibility to healthcare through an increase in the number of physicians insured by MACM.

“MACM saw a five percent increase in the number of physicians insured by the company between the end of 2002 and the end of 2008,” Governor Barbour said. “These additional physicians are now living and practicing in Mississippi and helping provide the health care that is so essential to a better quality of life for all Mississippians.”

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney praised the rate reduction.

“Mississippi physicians are now paying 42.2 percent less in premium for their professional liability insurance than they did in 2004, after tort reform was enacted through special sessions of the Mississippi Legislature,” Commissioner Chaney said. “Additional, and much stronger, tort reform was passed during a special session in the spring of 2004. As a result of this combined legislation, Mississippi healthcare has benefited. As an example, if a physician paid $10,000 in premium in 2004, that same physician would pay just $5,780 today as a result of fours years of rate reductions by MACM. In addition, this physician would have received refunds of premium totaling almost $7,000 during this same time period.”

When tort reform was first considered, MACM promised that if the legislation were passed, the company would respond by passing monetary savings to its customers. Through rate reductions and premium refunds for the past four years, MACM has honored this commitment.

“We are very pleased to announce a rate reduction for our insureds for the fourth straight year,” Michael D. Houpt, President and Chief Executive Officer of MACM, said. “As was the case in previous years, the driving force behind this reduction was continued decreases in losses and loss adjustment expenses. In addition to reduced rates at renewal of their policies, physicians have also received premium refunds in December of every year since 2005.”

Founded in 1976, Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi is an organization of physicians and non-physician staff members dedicated to providing sound, stable insurance products and quality related services to physicians and other health care providers practicing in the state of Mississippi.

Governor Haley Barbour
2/24/9