COPIC Comment: COPIC’s Volunteer Physician Program
No-cost coverage for those who provide uncompensated care
COPIC’s Volunteer Physician Program is a successful, ongoing initiative that exemplifies our mission to improve medicine in the communities we serve. The program offers medical professional liability insurance at no charge to eligible Colorado physicians who provide only uncompensated medical care.
Physicians who wish to take advantage of the program must complete an application to be approved for coverage. The requirements for coverage eligibility include the following:
- The physician must have a valid, current and unrestricted medical license.
- The physician must be providing services on a volunteer basis without any remuneration (monetary or otherwise) and wholly within the state of Colorado.
- The physician may not perform any obstetrical, prenatal, invasive or surgical procedures.
- The physician may maintain only consultation or courtesy privileges at a hospital with no admitting privileges.
- The physician may not maintain professional liability insurance coverage with any other carrier.*
* Physicians actively insured with COPIC who would like to provide volunteer services should contact their COPIC underwriter for details.
Volunteer physician testimonials
Name: John Cletcher, MD
Background: Orthopaedic surgeon
“To this day, I still enjoy the patient interaction and making a difference in people’s lives. It’s so much a part of me that I can’t give it up,” said Dr. John Cletcher, a retired orthopaedic surgeon. Dr. Cletcher’s connection to medicine continues through volunteer work he performs for Longmont Salud Family Health Center, a clinic that provides integrated primary health care services focused on the low-income, medically underserved population.
Dr. Cletcher’s relationship with Salud began more than a decade ago when he and two other orthopaedic surgeons at his former practice started volunteering with the clinic. Since retiring, he has taken on a mentor role at Salud, working closely with medical staff. Volunteering two to three days a month is not an overwhelming commitment, but rather, an important and rewarding experience, Dr. Cletcher said.
“What I bring to the clinic is a significant amount of experience and valuable insight. This would be completely lost if I didn’t use it. The clinical judgment I can offer helps us accomplish a lot in a way that conserves health care resources,” he said, citing an example of a patient whose torn meniscus was treated conservatively at first, instead of rushing to order an MRI.
“I would not be able to do this work if the (no-cost) medical liability coverage wasn’t available from COPIC. It makes volunteer physician programs in Colorado feasible,” Dr. Cletcher said. “This is rewarding for me to help treat people that really need care, and I can do it without the duress of fearing a lawsuit.”
Name: Dianne Leeb, MD
Background: Plastic surgery
Since 2008, Dr. Dianne Leeb has been a volunteer physician with Summit Community Care Clinic, the only safety-net health care provider in Summit County.
“Doctors in private practice in the mountains could have a continuous stream of patients rolling in who are under-insured or uninsured, but they have to pay rent,” she said. “People’s health exists on a spectrum that extends from being perfectly well to having a life-threatening issue. But, there are a lot of things in between that need attention and my volunteer role helps to address them.”
Dr. Leeb’s role as a volunteer physician is crucial in delivering care on several levels, said Christine Hoppe, Summit Community Care Clinic’s medical director. “She is able to perform routine procedures, like removing moles and performing biopsies, as well as provide expert consultation based on her skills as a plastic surgeon. Because of her expertise, it allows us to effectively manage our finances, our time and our services to provide the best patient care possible.”
In addition to her work at Summit Community Care Clinic, Dr. Leeb also utilizes her no-cost volunteer physician coverage from COPIC to serve as an on-call physician at Roundup River Ranch, a camp for kids with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.” I really wouldn’t be able to do this if I had to buy my own insurance. It frees up the concern of making sure you have adequate coverage and allows you to focus on practicing medicine,” she said.
For more information regarding COPIC’s Volunteer Physician Program, please contact our Underwriting and Policyholder Service department at (720) 858-6000 or (800) 421-1834.
Posted in: Colorado Medicine | Practice Management