ICA's Malpractice Insurance Program - Separating Fact from Sales Propaganda
By Stuart Hoffman, DC, president, ChiroSecureRecent months have seen an inordinate amount of sales propaganda masquerading as chiropractic "news" in WCA's Chiropractic Journal. While ICA initially ignored these "advertorials," their persistence demands a response.
The ICA has chosen this publication in which to supply readers with an honest discussion of the facts regarding the malpractice insurance choices available to ICA members and supporters.
On page 8 there is a short list of published advertorial comments that have pretended to be accurate, along with the facts and what the chiropractic profession should have been told.
Advertorial Comment: "It has come to our attention that Frontier has been downgraded to a 'C++' (Marginal) company by AM Best."
Fact: The ICA leadership constantly reviews the status of all of our vendors. Long before Frontier was downgraded, ICA began a one and a half-year search for a new carrier. Then and only then did the ICA inform and move all of its members over to a more stable, secure insurance company in order to protect them from this potential exposure.
What You Should Have Been Told: While you were being told about Frontier's downgrade, Chiropractic Benefit Services (CBS) itself was forced to switch its policyholders from Reliance to TIG. CBS was silent about their own predicament.
According to numerous articles in the news, Reliance Insurance is expected to go bankrupt.1, 2 If it does, CBS policyholders in many states will be left without recourse. This is because CBS is not registered with the Departments of Insurance in many states and would therefore not be protected should they have any serious problems with their insurance company. This rather serious exposure continues, even with the switch to TIG.
It's important to know that the ICA's malpractice program is registered with the Department of Insurance in every state where it does business. This benefits the doctor in the event that the carrier is unable to meet its obligations because the state insurance fund would step in and cover that company's obligations. Again, CBS offers no such assurances.
Advertorial Comment: While lots of claims have been made about them, until very recently, nowhere in all the rhetoric does the WCA/CBS ever disclose the name of Reliance or their new malpractice insurance company, TIG.
Fact: The ICA has never tried to hide the name of its insurance company. We believe this information is key if doctors are going to be able to compare companies. Why was this information being withheld in all of the previous articles and advertorials?
What You Should Have Been Told: TIG is actually the latest in a parade of malpractice insurance companies that CBS has directed and redirected its policyholders to. This is not the first time WCA/CBS has had to switch programs or carriers. What has happened to the coverage every time they switch? What if a policyholder has a claim that occurred under the old insurance company after they switch to the next one?
Advertorial Comment: "The CBS program utilizes the CCP 'Vertebral Subluxation in Chiropractic Practice' guidelines as its underwriting criteria, ensuring you will be covered for adjusting children and wellness patients without medical necessity."
Fact: While some would like to believe that malpractice insurance companies will exclude certain doctors of chiropractic who don't practice like they do, the truth is that the insurance company will insure any licensed doctor of chiropractic who meets their criteria regardless of their practice philosophy.
What You Should Have Been Told: While this advertorial comment is a nice sales pitch, we challenge the WCA/CBS to provide a signed letter from an officer of TIG stating that they will only insure DCs who formally subscribe to the Vertebral Subluxation in Chiropractic Practice guidelines. As CBS' own vice president stated: "Commercial insurance companies have no idea what chiropractors do." Reliance and TIG are no different.
Advertorial Comment: "ICA now must shop for a new underwriter willing to take on such a risky program."
Fact: In the last eight years, the ICA has only had approximately 100 claims. Over two-thirds of those claims have been fought and settled with no liability on the part of the doctors, and no payouts by the doctors or the insurance company. Our claims experience is excellent by any standards.
What You Should Have Been Told: If an accurate statement was really intended, why not present a comparison? Provide the number of claims and amount of the payouts experienced by CBS, and compare that with other malpractice insurance companies. Is there a reason this information was never published?
Advertorial Comment: "We live in a competitive business world, and I am very proud of my accomplishments."
Fact: The owner of CBS, the president of the WCA and the publisher of the Chiropractic Journal are all the same person. In addition, his son-in-law is the vice-president of CBS, the vice-president of the WCA and a contributing editor of the Chiropractic Journal. Furthermore, his wife is co-owner of CBS, chief financial officer of the WCA and co-publisher of the Chiropractic Journal.
What You Should Have Been Told: Most honorable people with such overwhelming conflicts of interest abstain from using a non-profit organization or its publication to promote their own insurance company. It is obvious to all that the owner/president/publisher is directly competing with the ICA as a chiropractic organization; the ICA Review as a publication; and the ICA's malpractice insurance program. It should also be obvious that all comments made by him, his family, his organization and his publication are suspect.
The above represent only a few of the topics in which CBS' advertorial comments have been used as part of ill-disguised malpractice insurance sales pitches to discredit the ICA. The profession is reminded of the difference between a legitimate, democratic, chiropractic association and a family controlled "alliance."
B.J. Palmer,DC, founded the ICA 75 years ago to safeguard true chiropractic and the philosophy that inspires all that we do. And while CBS/WCA/Chiropractic Journal is clearly attempting to undermine it for his own purposes, the ICA will continue to lead the profession and serve its members long after he makes his profits and passes on.
1. Reuter's News Service, October 23, 2000
2. Reliance Group Ratings Fall as Bankruptcy Looms. November 1, 2000, Reuters.