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Am J Prev Med. 1998 Apr;14(3 Suppl):53-9.

Public health, communicable diseases, and managed care: Will managed care improve or weaken communicable disease control?

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School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley 94720-7360, USA.



Several changes can be anticipated in the practice of communicable disease control as a result of the health care delivery system's transition from a predominantly fee-for-service system to a predominantly managed care system. These changes will clearly involve clinical services provided by public health agencies, such as immunizations and diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as those that do not involve direct patient care, such as public health surveillance, disease investigation, outbreak control, contact tracing, public health laboratory services, and health education.


In this paper I review the potential impact of managed care on each of these areas of communicable disease control and suggest strategies for minimizing adverse effects and maximizing potential areas of cooperation.


Examples of successful strategies include California's Medi-Cal managed care expansion, which allows local public health agencies to bill managed care organizations for the sexually transmitted disease, immunization, and confidential HIV services they provide to managed care beneficiaries. A different strategy is illustrated by the Pacific Business Group on Health, an employer-based purchasing group, that uses purchasing power to standardize the clinical preventive services benefit across all plans with which it contracts and to promote immunization goals.


This analysis and these examples suggest that the emergence of managed care as the predominant form of health care financing and delivery in the United States offers an important opportunity for public health.

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