President and Founder of Doctors Care
People choose to become doctors to do good, to take care of people and to make them better. So when I first started practicing, I was amazed to discover that it made a difference in our country whether an individual had insurance coverage or money. As far as I was concerned, if people were sick, they needed care – so I decided to do something about that in Colorado.
My effectiveness is illustrated by the fact that when I arrived here, there were 200,000 people without health insurance in the state; today, there are 839,000 people without coverage. While the Affordable Care Act will help to significantly decrease that number in Colorado, I don’t foresee a time when everyone will have access to health care, regardless of their ability to pay.
Although there is consensus that we have an imperfect system, there is no agreement on what form of universal health care everybody will support. That’s why there will always be a place for programs like Doctors Care to ensure even the underprivileged and underserved have access to health care.
The best advice I can offer to organizations that wish to adopt the Doctors Care model is to remember that you always get more than you give. When you help someone in need without expecting payment, you end up getting more than you give. As such, I firmly believe in asking other doctors to help. I see it as doing them a favor by asking for their engagement on behalf of the medically underserved.
Similarly, I believe that by working together, we can accomplish more than by doing things individually. The more we collaborate and work together, the more we become a community and everyone profits.
At Doctors Care, it’s always been our mantra that if everyone does a little, no one has to do too much. Indeed, we began as a project of a county medical society with this so-called selling point. As then-president of a county medical society, I sent letters to all its members, describing the Doctors Care program and telling them to call me if they wanted to opt-out…I didn’t get many calls.
That’s how we started…and it’s how you can start, too. You don’t need thousands of physicians in a medical society; you can start with a small group of dedicated physicians and build from there.
“We can! We must! We will!” Gary VanderArk, MD, Doctors Care founder