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N Engl J Med. 2002 Apr 25;346(17):1288-93.

Assessments of medical care by enrollees in for-profit and nonprofit health maintenance organizations.

Author information

1
Center for Studying Health System Change, Washington, DC 20024, USA. htu@hschange.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

It is uncertain how assessments of medical care differ between enrollees in for-profit and nonprofit health maintenance organizations (HMOs).

METHODS:

We analyzed the relation between the profit status of HMOs and enrollees' assessments of their care. We used data from two national surveys from the Community Tracking Study: the Household Survey, 1996-1997, and the 1997-1998 Insurance Followback Survey. The final sample included 13,271 persons under 65 years of age (10,654 adults and 2617 children) with employer-sponsored insurance who obtained health care through an HMO. A total of 12,445 enrollees who reported their health status as excellent, very good, or good were considered to be healthy; 826 with self-reported fair or poor health were considered to be sick.

RESULTS:

In the sample as a whole, enrollees in nonprofit plans were more likely to be very satisfied with their overall care than enrollees in for-profit plans (adjusted means, 64.0 percent and 58.1 percent, respectively; P=0.01). Among enrollees in for-profit HMOs, sick enrollees were more likely than healthy enrollees to report unmet need or delayed care (17.4 percent vs. 13.1 percent, P=0.004) and organizational or administrative barriers to care (12.9 percent vs. 9.0 percent, P<0.001); they also reported higher out-of-pocket spending during the previous year ($731 vs. $480, P=0.002). For nonprofit HMOs, there was only one significant difference between the ratings of healthy and sick enrollees; sick enrollees expressed more trust in doctors to refer when needed.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although there are few overall differences in assessments of medical care between enrollees in for-profit and nonprofit HMOs, for-profit HMOs are rated less favorably than nonprofit HMOs by patients who have self-reported fair or poor health.

PMID:
11973366
DOI:
10.1056/NEJMsa011250
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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