OB/GYN Doctors Head Back to the Valley
Five years ago, high insurance premiums drove a lot of doctors out of our valley. The field of obstetrics was especially hard-hit as more than three dozen OB/GYN’s left for states with lower insurance costs. A local specialist told Eye on Health the situation is better today. But there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Local OB/GYN’s will deliver an estimated 30,000 babies in Clark County this year and no new mom should have to go it alone. That was not the situation five years ago when some 39 OB/GYN’s left the area.
Las Vegas OB/GYN, John Martin pushed for change. “That’s a huge number in such a growing community like Las Vegas. And that’s what made it such a desperate situation.”
His own malpractice insurance premiums increased from $46,000 a year to $96,000. That’s the insurance doctors must have to cover themselves in case of a lawsuit, something that’s unusually common in obstetrics cases.
A push for change succeeded at the legislative level and Dr. Martin said it has made a difference. “We are seeing stabilization of our rates and lower rates in some cases and more competition in the market.”
Dr. Martin says there’s still a matter of insurance reimbursement, which currently averages $2,200 for a doctor’s care from conception to birth. Many states pay more, and that’s where many doctors go.
“We even have trouble keeping the three residents that they produce out of University of Nevada program at UMC staying in Las Vegas,” shared Dr. Martin. “Because it’s still not that lucrative place to practice.”
The growth in our valley also plays a part. Most medical specialties in Clark County are in short supply. That usually translates into long wait times, especially at OB/GYN’s offices.
“But they’re not being turned away,” explains Dr. Martin.
At least 10 OB/GYN’s have moved into Clark County in the past year. Dr. Martin is president of the Clark County OB/GYN society.