More than half of current MDs are searching for ways to maintain autonomy; insurance coverage is a key place to start
SALT LAKE CITY – (August 14, 2013) – While the number of independent physicians continues to decline – down to an estimated 40 percent nationally1 – the majority of those remaining want to find ways to stay that way. Insurance – from malpractice to liability – can be a major cause of concern for independent physicians. The MGIS Companies, Inc. (MGIS), the nation’s leading provider of insurance products and services designed specifically for physicians, has developed a list of eight tips to help physicians maintain autonomy:
- Study your insurance policies, especially the fine print. Most physicians purchase their insurance policies early in their careers; and 42 percent haven’t reviewed them for five years or more. Knowing what your insurance policies cover – or do not – is key to ensuring strong protection for your practice.
- Ask 360 degree questions. Physicians must consider all the possible implications of becoming disabled – one’s own income, the impact upon the practice/partners’ finances, retirement plan contributions, payment of medical malpractice premiums/tail/step-down. There is a lot more to think about than just replacing part of your income. For example, surgeons and specialists may have policies that cover disability, but often it is based on salaries for a primary care physician, not one providing their level of service.
- Check how your transition to electronic medical records (EMR) is proceeding. Have you completed the transfer of patient records to electronic medical records (EMR)? If you are in the process of transferring, or if there are any lost records, you could be at increased risk for a lawsuit if there is a problem or a missed record, even missing information from a file. Talk to experts to ensure your EMR transfer process is done right and the process for maintaining it correctly is in place.
- Protect against breaches in security. One of the most costly and prevalent types of new liability risks for physicians is security breaches – something as simple as leaving an office laptop in a public space or leaving a computer on where others can see the patient record. Guard against such breaches and ensure you have a policy that fully protects your practice in the event one occurs.
- Look at how your practice has changed over the past few years. Have you added products such as weight loss programs or supplements? Are you offering nutrition, aesthetics or some other service? Have you added independent contractors? If so, it’s time to take a look at the policies of the products and people now part of your office, as well as your own policy to ensure you are covered.
- Work with a qualified broker. Medical insurance is more complex and subject to frequent changes and interpretations at the state and federal level. Make sure you work with a broker or agent who knows the market for physicians insurance and will be able to give you the advice and council you need.
- Look for insurers and partners that provide the risk management services you need. Large hospital systems and medical groups work with risk managers to provide training and tips on avoiding risks. Independent physicians should look for this level of support and guidance through brokers, insurance carriers and practice management partners that have the expertise and knowledge to help their practice learn how to avoid risk.
- Don’t always go with the lowest price. Many physicians are looking to join small risk retention groups to reduce expenses. Make sure the insurer covering claims is rated at least an A+ or higher. Beware especially of new or discount carriers entering the market offering low costs to get business. Many of these are rated poorly and may not be around in a few years when you most need claims coverage.
“Independent physicians will continue to be an important part of our healthcare fabric and we need to provide viable, proven options to help those who want to retain their autonomy,” notes Jeff Brunken, president of MGIS. “Ensuring their practice is fully protected against malpractice, liability and disability is an important piece of a world-class foundation that will enable them to focus on continuing to practice medicine the way they choose.”
The MGIS Companies, Inc. is the nation’s leading provider of insurance products and services specifically for physicians. For more than 44 years the company has provided specialized group disability insurance, medical-professional liability insurance, and practice improvement ancillary products and services to more than 10,000 physician groups, 900,000 group members, and 300,000 physicians nationwide. The MGIS group disability policies are backed by Sun Life Financial®, one of the largest and highest-rated insurance companies in North America. The MGIS medical-professional liability insurance policies are backed by Freedom Specialty Insurance Company, a Nationwide® Company, rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best. With a rich tradition of service excellence, MGIS works exclusively through local brokers and benefit advisors to provide the ultimate in personalized, physician-focused insurance services. For more information visit our website mgis.com.
Scott Public Relations