Part 2: Texas agent shares how the role of rural hospitals will expand

Editor’s note: Today’s blogpost is the second in a three-part series on how a successful medical malpractice insurance agent views the future of the market and the broker’s role within it. The article it originates from was initially published in the April 2012 issue of Medical Liability Monitor, the industry’s premier source for consistent, reliable coverage and fresh perspectives on medical professional liability insurance and risk management issues.

TORCH was founded more than 20 years ago as the voice and principal advocate for rural community hospitals in Texas, as well as provide leadership in addressing the special needs and issues of those hospitals. There are currently 150 member hospitals, and more than a third of those participate in the organization’s insurance program, banding together for the lower premiums its group-buying power affords. The TORCH insurance program helps its members buy general liability, workers comp, property, D&O and medical professional liability insurance products, among others. According to the organization, the program’s total buying power has tripled since 2007, member participation has increased by 27 percent and the total number of insurance policies purchased with the help of HealthSure has increased by 197 percent.

“It’s been increasingly difficult for rural hospitals to improve their bottom line,” said David Pearson, TORCH president and CEO.  “The economy has been lagging, and it’s become more difficult for hospitals to get adequate reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and the different payers. Because rural hospitals have a harder time negotiating a good premium with the carriers, and the renewal process can be a little tricky for smaller organizations, our relationship with HealthSure lets us meet a need that is clearly defined within our membership.”

According to Pearson, with the healthcare delivery model trending towards a more fully integrated one, the hospitals that serve Texas’ more remote areas will play a more significant role than they ever have before. If things play out as intended, people living in these communities will no longer have to drive the sometimes hundreds of miles to see a specialist.

With more patients visiting their local community hospital for treatment, liability exposures are expected to increase. This has rightfully caused many hospital administrators to start looking at varied insurance answers to their varied risk issues.

“The hospitals like that we bring them insurance options,” Couch explained. “Many of them are public entities, and they require multiple bids. We act as their independent agent, bringing them several purchasing options. We are not beholden to any one company. We are not a captive broker or a direct writer, but a high percentage of our business does end up with certain carriers due to preferred arrangements on price and terms that we have negotiated for TORCH members.”

Editor’s note: Check back tomorrow for the third installment where Barry Couch shares how he would advise hospitals in regard to employed-physicians’ medical malpractice insurance.

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