The Oklahoma State Medical Association has agreed to sell Oklahoma’s top medical malpractice insurer, PLICO Inc., to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, under undisclosed terms. PLICO justifies its sale to the much larger MedPro Group by stating that the sale furthers its desire to expand. The PLICO sale is subject to regulatory approval but is expected to be completed within the next three months.
PLICO was founded in 1979 and serves approximately 2,200 health care providers throughout Oklahoma. PLICO’s insureds include hospitals and physicians, a well as others in the health care field. By the end of 2014, PLICO reported surpluses in excess of $60 million; PLICO’s annual written premiums are approximately $30 million. In comparison, MedPro Group insures more than 120,000 health care providers and receives annual premiums in excess of $874 million.
Berkshire Hathaway has been involved in a recent buying spree when it comes to medical malpractice insurance companies — it has bought three medical malpractice insurance companies during the last ten years. In discussing the PLICO acquisition, Warren Buffet, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, stated, ” … our [Berkshire Hathaway’s] MedPro Group is not only the nation’s leading healthcare liability company, providing peace of mind to the nation’s healthcare providers, we are also now a favored solution for owners of healthcare liability insurers who seek the world’s most stable home for their company and policyholders in a very unstable and changing healthcare landscape.”
Most U.S. states that have enacted so-called medical malpractice tort reform laws that insulate and protect negligent medical providers from full financial responsibility to those harmed by their negligence, carelessness, and/or incompetence have justified such laws that place healthcare providers’ profits above the health and well-being of their victim-patients by arguing that providing full and fair compensation to medical malpractice victims would cost health care providers too much money paid in medical malpractice premiums.
The medical malpractice insurance companies were more than happy to enlist and support local physicians and other health care providers to lobby their state legislators to save them from the-sky-is-falling financial ruin. Yet medical malpractice insurance companies are among the most profitable businesses in the United States and earn more in profits than other insurance carriers (PLICO stated on its website, “In 2015, PLICO is stronger and more capable than ever”). In fact, MedPro Group boasts, “With billions in assets, we have the financial strength to protect you both now and for decades to come.” (emphasis added)
We do not criticize Warren Buffet or Berkshire Hathaway from acquiring medical malpractice insurance companies throughout the United States in furtherance of their goal of maximizing their returns on investments; we note, however, if medical malpractice insurance companies were unprofitable, they would not have attracted the likes of Mr. Buffet and his Berkshire Hathaway.
Perhaps its time to put people over profits.
If you suffered serious harm as a result of medical malpractice in Oklahoma, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in Oklahoma who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.