Kansas was one of the front runners in establishing reforms in the area of medical malpractice law. A $250,000 limit was placed on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. In addition, lawmakers created the Kansas Health Care Stabilization Fund to help make medical professional liability insurance coverage available at affordable rates. All health care providers licensed in the state of Kansas must participate in the Fund to keep their licenses current. Physicians are required to carry a primary medical malpractice insurance policy through one of the private, admitted insurance carriers approved by the state’s department of insurance. They are then required to pay a surcharge to the Fund, which acts as excess coverage. The primary, private insurance company is responsible for calculating the surcharge, collecting it along with the premium, and sending it to the Fund.
In addition, HB2376 was passed in 2013, which enacts the Apology and Disclosure of Unanticipated Medical Outcomes and Medical Errors Act. This act says that any apology or expression of sympathy by a physician or other health care provider is not admissible as evidence of an admission of guilt or liability in a malpractice claim. This gives doctors the freedom to say they are sorry if there is an unexpected medical outcome.
Medical malpractice claims must be made within 2 years of the date of the medical care or incident in the state of Kansas. The law also allows for claims to be filed within 2 years of the date the patient becomes aware of the injury as long as it is no longer than 4 years after the incident.
Physicians practicing in Kansas are required to carry medical professional liability insurance limits of $200,000 per occurrence and $600,000 aggregate per year. The Kansas Health Care Stabilization Fund provides excess limits of either $100,000/$300,000 or $300,000/$900,000 or $800,000/$2,400,000 in addition to the underlying limit purchased by an admitted, private insurance carrier. The underlying $200/$600 limit is primary. This system has helped keep malpractice insurance rates low for physicians, but they are required to pay into the Fund as well.
Kansas has more than 25 medical professional liability insurance companies that have been authorized by the Insurance Commissioner to insure physicians for the primary coverage. Of those 25 companies there are about 7 that are actively writing policies.
Many physicians have found Kansas to be a favorable place to practice medicine because of the stable malpractice insurance market. Due to the reforms made in the past 2 decades the insurance rates have steadily declined and remain low today. Physicians that practice on the border of the state in the Kansas City area are sometimes faced with choosing a side, either Kansas or Missouri, to establish a practice because of the Fund. But policies can be tailored to cover a Kansas physician practicing in Missouri and vice versa.