As I wrote here in 2009, if you want to predict what you should be worrying about tomorrow, find out what insiders are worried about today. For example, it’s ever-so-enlightening to eavesdrop on the internal reports that health care industry stakeholders are reading, where simple, dull-witted heart patients like me can find intriguing musings from the pundits paid to stay one step ahead of the prescription pad.
I found such an insider recently in the form of LifeHealthPro. This company’s website explains:
“LifeHealthPro.com is the only complete online destination for life and health insurance advisors. The site is designed to provide advisors, insurance wholesalers, CPAs, and estate planning attorneys the essential elements they need to run their practice and increase their bottom line.”
One recent posting, for example, called “$50M+ Healthcare Super Losses On the Rise” has some scary industry warnings about medical malpractice lawsuits in the arguably litigious U.S. of A. The piece is from Bill Coffin, editor-in-chief of National Underwriter, Life & Health, who explains:
“Despite improved healthcare quality and patient safety measures, the cost of medical malpractice continues to climb, with juries awarding over $1 billion in damages for just seven medical liability cases in the last two years, according to Bermuda-based specialty healthcare insurer Hiscox (LSE:HSX).
“Many healthcare institutions show only modest medical liability losses, but others are experiencing mid-sized losses that are rising, Hiscox says. It also points to more frequent catastrophic medical liability losses that can be attributed to shortcomings such as inadequate staffing in nursing homes or medical negligence in hospitals.
“Seven U.S. states in 2011 announced their largest-ever medical malpractice awards, Hiscox says, and from March 2012 to the present, seven particularly large awards have cost the healthcare industry more than $1 billion in liability losses. Hiscox says:
“While some cases have been, or will be revised down on appeal, there are clear signs that the overall trend in ‘super losses’ is upwards.”
“Ian Thompson, Senior Vice President, Healthcare, Hiscox, expressed concern that such “super-losses” are increasing in both frequency and severity. He pointed to cases such as an ongoing investigation into over-stenting in Maryland as just the kind of case that can ultimately become a catastrophic medical liability loss. This concern is compounded by increasing evidence that batch losses (in which insurers can place losses together under an aggregating cause) are also becoming larger and more frequent.
“According to Hiscox figures, more than half of the largest healthcare claims in history have been paid in the last five years. Thompson adds;
“We are already seeing numerous and very public reports coming out of the Hospital Data Privacy area, and challenging times appear to be ahead. With insurers charging premiums for catastrophic events often based on a 1 in every 200- or 300-year loss, it is time that the healthcare insurance sector took a careful look at its catastrophic exposures.”
RISE OF THE SUPER LOSS: RECENT JURY AWARDS
|March 2010||New York||$60.9m||Negligence at birth|
|July 2010||California||$670m||Inadequate staffing at assisted-living facilities|
|July 2010||Florida||$114m||Wrongful death suit against a nursing home|
|May 2011||Connecticut||$58.6m||Negligence at birth|
|August 2011||West Virginia||$91.5m||Nursing home negligence|
|October 2011||Michigan||$144m||Negligence at birth|
|January 2012||Florida||$168m||Brain damage following surgery|