Government, Health Care, and Law

Medical professional liability company enters market

January 1, 2016
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A medical professional liability company founded in Pennsylvania has expanded into Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services approved Professional Casualty Association, or PCA, for operations as a licensed and admitted carrier. PCA began operating in Michigan in November.

Jonathan Lanesky, vice president of marketing/claims, will lead the Michigan office, which is located in Southfield, along with Sadhna Chopra, who will serve as vice president of underwriting.

“I personally have been here and have worked here in the medical malpractice field for over 15 years,” Lanesky said.

He said Chopra has extensive experience serving the Midwest region, including Michigan.

“Her focus has been on the Midwest,” he said. “She’s been a lead underwriter at many carriers. She has a personal understanding of the Lower Peninsula, including Metro Detroit and Grand Rapids.”

Lanesky said PCA’s expansion into Michigan was the result of multiple doctors requesting a new solution in the state. All doctors are required to carry medical professional liability insurance.

“Over the last 18 to 20 months, I started working for the holding company for PCA,” he said. “I saw an incredible fit, and we started getting doctors in the Metro Detroit area looking for something to provide the services that they had in the old days.”

Lanesky said in the past doctors could choose from a wider variety of carriers with more personalized service, but today consolidation has led to a handful of larger companies dominating the industry.

Lanesky said PCA focuses on serving doctors in private practice rather than hospitals or health systems. The company also offers allied coverage for midwives, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

As a smaller carrier, he said PCA offers doctors a more personalized approach.

“It’s our motto to be ‘physician strong and physician first,’” he said.

He said the company seeks to provide preventive services as well as help if a liability claim occurs.

“We provide a lot of risk counseling and ‘white-glove’ services,” he said. “That is an extension of our theory that you are paying us to stop these problems. So if a patient comes in and is acting unruly and you don’t know what to do, pick up the phone and let us deal with it.

“We employ three attorneys, in addition to myself, who can give you advice to try and stop these things from becoming a lawsuit.”

Lanesky said PCA clients are given full control over the decision of whether to settle a case, which he said is unusual in the industry.

“We can’t settle without the doctor’s permission, so he can take it all the way to trial if he wants. We are not going to force a decision,” he said.

Lanesky said while the number of liability cases filed against doctors has gone down, there are several things happening in the health care industry that increase a doctor’s risk.

The Affordable Care Act is prompting doctors to see more patients than ever before, and many of those patients may have gone years without seeing a doctor, so there is the likelihood that many of them are sicker, too.

“Seeing people who are sicker than normal increases risk,” he said. “Arguably, the amount of cases being filed against doctors is down, frivolous lawsuits are down, but the cases that are getting filed, they are big ones — $100,000-plus cases.

“Payment numbers have gone way up. The doctor has much more exposure to a life-changing catastrophic lawsuit than he’s had in the past.”

Job duties for those in the medical profession are changing, he said, so nurses are doing more jobs formerly done by doctors — likewise with paramedics and other hospital staff members.

“That adds risk,” he said.

PCA’s products will be offered through an exclusive set of retail and wholesale producer relationships, and Lanesky said the company is committed to offering its products to doctors throughout the state.

“Our goal is to be as big as we can in the state of Michigan.”

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