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Comment and Controversy

If we assert ourselves, we can solve inequities

June 2006 · Vol. 18, No. 6
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Maybe it has been for our own sanity that none of us has done the math to determine how many days we are working to pay our “mal-occurrence” premiums—until now. I think most of us intuitively knew the results, but I appreciate the cold slap in the face that Dr. Barbieri provided. The time has come for radical changes. Otherwise, we may regret our decision to become ObGyns.

Why are we paying such inordinate costs without reciprocal reimbursements? Litigation for malpractice (and I use the term loosely) is a societal problem in this country. Other than passivity, we are guilty only of choosing a profession we enjoy. If we assert ourselves and work collectively, ObGyns could wield more power than any other medical specialty.

I have 2 suggestions:

  1. Have all specialties pay the same price for mal-occurrence insurance. Sharing the load would help us tremendously.
  2. Set a date for all ObGyns to begin refusing insurance assignments for OB care. We could post this plan on a national Web site so that we have a common source of information. After the set date, we would accept cash for OB care at a level of $4,000 to $6,000. Let the patients solve the reimbursement problem with their insurance carriers.

Once we have everyone’s attention, we can discuss Gyn reimbursements, too.

These suggestions may seem ridiculous, but I do not see how we can afford to continue providing health care. Even with a government-backed single-payer plan in the future, neurosurgeons and orthopedists will still make more than we will if we do not demand more payment today.

Remember the movie Network: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

G. Walton Smith, MD, MBA
Knoxville, Tenn

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