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Insuring Controversy: When Malpractice Premiums Jump, Some Docs Ask Patients to 'Donate' to the Cause

Date: September 21, 2004
Author: Sandra G. Boodman
QUOTE: "Physicians are getting crushed by the combination of malpractice cost shocks and declining reimbursement...As a result, there is great interest in surcharges or access fees."

ABSTRACT: Some doctors have begun asking their patients to voluntarily pay additional surcharges beyond the actual billing to offset rising malpractice insurance costs. These? "voluntary" requests are controversial because they can be viewed as coercive, i.e. patients might worry that the quality of treatment they receive would drop if they did not pay the surcharge. Several medical ethics experts weigh in on whether it's proper for doctors to put their patients in the middle of the overarching societal fight between doctors and lawyers over malpractice costs and reform.

--- Patrick Clark

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