Rates out of control

Before we even begin this editorial about obstetricians and the high cost of insurance, the Observer on Sunday does indeed recognise that hundreds of babies in the Cayman Islands are birthed yearly by the capable midwives available at the public health agency.

That’s not what our complaint is about.

What concerns us most is that insurance rates for obstetricians have gotten out of control.

While midwives do an excellent job of birthing babies when there isn’t a medical issue to either the mother or the child, obstetricians do have to step up to the plate when problems do present themselves.

And that is the rub.

Yes, there are very qualified obstetricians at the Cayman Islands Hospitals who do an excellent job of delivering babies for moms on all three Islands.

But rising costs could force some to stop practising, consequentially creating a shortage of obstetricians.

Not every pregnant woman necessarily wants to attend the government provided physician for her gynaecological or obstetrical needs, no matter how good the government doctors are.

And not every pregnant woman opts to have her baby at the government-owned hospital. Many women choose the private hospital, Chrissie Tomlinson, to have their babies delivered via private physicians. At the end of the day, it is up to the woman and her partner/husband to choose.

The issue at hand is that we have six private obstetricians facing exorbitant prices for insurance to cover medical malpractice issues; and there haven’t been that many lawsuits brought in Cayman. In fact, the highest one paid out was awarded $350,000 in non-economic damages. Lawmakers have set the benchmark at $500,000.

The Observer on Sunday can appreciate that this legislation was done, in part, to help the arrival of the Dr. Shetty hospital to lure medical tourism, but doctors already in this country contributing to society both medically and socially have been trying to tell lawmakers for years that the medical insurance laws need to be changed to keep down rising costs so that those doctors can remain in Cayman and provide a valuable service.

There is no guarantee that the cap of $500,000 is going to help the doctors already in our midst who are trusted by their patients.

We should have been doing better by our established physicians all along.