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Report Blames High Miami Health Care Costs Partly on Doctors Without Medical Malpractice Insurance

As a Hollywood medical malpractice lawyer, I was interested to see that South Florida was the subject of a May 20 Time magazine story about the cost of health care. As the president begins to look at reforming medical malpractice laws, the magazine pointed out that Miami has the highest health care costs of any major city, according to one study, spending 20% more than the national average. The magazine gave several possible reasons for the problem, including South Florida’s very high rate of uninsured doctors.

The article said a full one-third of doctors in Miami are uninsured, a situation that most hospitals and some states outright forbid. (I wrote about this last year, after a South Florida Sun-Sentinel article on the subject. The number is almost as high here in Broward County, where about a quarter of doctors are uninsured.) Because these doctors could lose personal assets in a South Florida medical malpractice lawsuit, the magazine said, they practice “defensive medicine,” meaning they order tests and hospitalization that probably aren’t necessary, just to be safe. As a result, Miami-Dade has more MRI machines than Canada and one of the nation’s highest hospital readmission rates. The situation is complicated by rampant Medicare fraud and a lack of primary-care physicians that drives patients into the arms of specialists.

While not surprising, this issue just underscores the importance of carrying medical malpractice insurance. The article notes that a history of bad medical care in Florida has made malpractice insurance very expensive in this state. As an attorney who also carries malpractice insurance, I can sympathize — but I disagree strongly that not carrying any insurance at all is a good answer.

Uninsured doctors in Florida are required to keep no more than $100,000 on hand in case they do get sued; they are free to hide the rest under the names of their spouses and children. That $100,000 may be enough to cover some medical mistakes, but healthcare expenses can rise above six figures very quickly. In the most serious cases, they can rise to seven figures. That means patients who are injured by uninsured doctors could be stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills because of a doctor’s mistake, even after a successful Deerfield Beach medical malpractice lawsuit. (The same is true with medical malpractice damage caps.) Meanwhile, insurance companies, whose prices are the underlying problem, see no negative effects at all.

If you or a loved one is the victim of a serious medical mistake in South Florida, our firm, Cohn, Smith & Cohn, would like to help. Based in Hollywood/Pembroke Pines, we serve clients throughout South Florida who lost a family member or were seriously hurt by the carelessness of a doctor, hospital or other medical professional or institution. In a Palm Beach medical malpractice lawsuit, you can win the money you need to pay medical bills, make ends meet if you cannot work and compensate you for any disability or wrongful death. To learn more at a free, confidential consultation, please call us at (954) 431-8100 or contact us through the Internet today.

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