UCSF-STANFORD: Docs Fear Shouldering Malpractice Cost
Officials with UCSF Stanford Health Care have "asked their medical departments to start paying half the cost of malpractice premiums," a move many physicians see as a premonition that they will have to pay for the insurance out of pocket. Since the Stanford and UC medical schools have asked their doctors to pay half their premiums and have not allocated any money to the departments to cover this expense, physicians fear they will be forced to foot the $7,000 to $40,000 annual cost in addition to last year's demand by UC that doctors pony up extra funds to bolster the system's malpractice reserve. The San Francisco Business Journal reports that the controversy stems from the UCSF-Stanford merger, as the UC doctors traditionally received free insurance while the Stanford physicians paid the full amount themselves. Larry Smith, director of risk management for UCSF- Stanford Health Care, said, "This is all in the context of a merged entity, where a whole bunch of things had to change." Besides the impositions required by the merger, Smith argued there are other reasons the doctors should have to pay for their malpractice insurance. "There's no question that society is benefited and the physician is benefited if there's a direct responsibility for the physician to the cost of malpractice insurance," he said. Smith, "a malpractice guru" UCSF-Stanford brought in "to try to make the system pay for itself," has cut the system's malpractice payments from $17 million to $11 million in the past year (Bole, 2/15 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.