Two years ago, a small group of physicians in Ohio met and formed the Ohio Chapter of the AAPS. Our immediate first priority was to recruit members. Word of mouth brought us additional members. Next, we obtained the names and addresses of approximately 24,000 physicians in Ohio. We sent them test letters in increments of about 5000 each time, introducing ourselves and the AAPS. We changed the letter each time. The last time we informed them of the criminalization in the Kassebaum-Kennedy Bill and sent them a sample letter to send to their representatives. Each of these efforts brought us a small number of members. Most doctors, although they agreed with us, still did not join and we soon realized that besides ideology, we also needed to provide benefits and services in order for our membership to grow. Our efforts have paid off and I am venturing to say that we are now the fastest growing state chapter in the AAPS organization. Here is our story.
Toward the end of that year, I became the president of the Association of American Physician and Surgeons-Ohio Chapter. In an effort to provide benefits to our active members and to encourage new members, I decided to investigate the possibility of setting up an endorsed program for professional medical liability insurance. I called my independent agent and asked if this was a possibility. He responded in saying this was a very timely call as many of the companies were just beginning to entertain these types of programs for large groups or associations of physicians.
My agent then went out and again contacted a number of different companies to see if they would provide any substantial discounting for a state-wide program. He again came back with a number of different companies proposals in Ohio. As it happened to be the case, the one company that stood out both in the amount of discounting they were willing to offer and additional policy benefits was the same company I had been with during that year.
I made the decision to endorse this program through this company and started the wheels in motion to make the AAPS member physicians aware of this new benefit of membership. We initially sent out flyers to all members across the state highlighting the discounting available under this new program. The initial response from our members was tremendous. One of the areas they all felt was a very high cost aspect of their medical practice was their professional medical liability coverage. The thought of possibly saving some money on a program like this, while improving policy coverage benefits was most appealing to the members. They sent in a single one-page questionnaire on the program and were presented with a direct comparison to their existing coverage.
I decided that as president, I would test the water on this new program first. I sent in my information at policy renewal time and was very pleased when I received a premium response back that was approximately 30 percent lower than my previous year premium. I was also very pleased to hear from other members when their initial responses turned up similar savings as well. In this era of managed care, any cost efficiencies that can improve the bottom line profitability of our medical practices are always most welcome.
The program success continued to accelerate throughout the year. We provided periodic updates on the success of the program in our newsletter to our members. When it came close to my renewal time again the following year, my agent called me and informed me because of the large response in member numbers that had enlisted in this program, the discounting had become even greater for the upcoming year. As I recently renewed my policy, I received an additional 10 percent discount in my cost.
The success of the Ohio program was such that it began to reach the ears of our members in other states. They have now made inquires in each of their respective states as to the possibility of making this program national in scope.
My current independent agent is looking into that and it appears this will be very workable for these physicians in other states across the country.
In closing, I am very pleased with the tremendous success that has been brought by this program, all originating from an unsolicited inquiry from a very professional independent malpractice insurance agent. A great number of our current members have seen tremendous financial and coverage benefits from this program. I think this proves very strongly the old adage, “you don’t know what you can get, until you ask.”
In addition, to the medical malpractice insurance savings programs, the Ohio-AAPS has had a tremendous year.
1. We held two financial service seminars on “Physicians Guide to Global Asset and Investing.” This helps our private practice doctors compete financially in these changing times.
2. A radio advertising campaign “Just Say No to HMO” was implemented under the direction of one member, Fred Kapetansky, M.D. (See below: “WTVN Radio Spot HMO-Medicare.)
3. Ohio-AAPS members testified in the Ohio Congress to help pass MSAs in Ohio.
4. Ohio-AAPS plans to offer true MSA for our members at the end of this year.
5. An outstanding seminar “Reclaiming American Medicine” was co-sponsored by the Ohio-AAPS and the Freedom in Medicine Foundation and held on October 11, 1997.
Dr. Borchers is a dermatologist in Dayton, Ohio. Her address is 5727 Far Hill Ave., Dayton, OH 45429.
Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1998;3(2):65-66. Copyright © 1998 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).