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Satisfaction level high for HMO members, two studies say.

A new study shows that the number of people served by health maintenance organizations has had its biggest jump since 1987. In 1993, nearly 45 million people belonged to HMOs, up 3.5 million from year-end 1992 according to information gathered by the Group Health Association of America, Washington, D.C.

The GHAA data predict that the number of people choosing HMOs could reach 50 million by the end of this year, including many consumers who will be switching from old-style fee-for-service plans. At the same time, the study shows that the rate of increase in premiums for people receiving their care from HMOs will decline in 1994 for the fifth year in a row. The GHAA says the typical HMO member can expect a 5.6 percent premium increase in 1994, down from 8.1 percent in 1993.

The findings are from GHAA's sixth annual HMO Market Position Report, based on a scientifically drawn random sample of 50 plans with 5.8 million members nationwide.

Another managed-care report from the Sachs Group, Inc., of Evanston, Ill., says consumers belonging to health maintenance organizations are more satisfied than their counterparts in preferred provider organizations or traditional fee-for-service health plans, even though PPOs and traditional plans usually offer more choices to their members.

The latest annual survey by the Sachs Group, called SachsFacts, studied healthcare attitudes and behavior of 100,000 households nationwide. It found that 70 percent of respondents in staff-model HMOs would recommend their current health plan to a friend, while only 57 percent in fee-for-service plans would do the same.

In the area of handling claims and billing problems, 90 percent of HMO members are satisfied with the plans' speed compared to only 69 percent satisfaction among fee-for-service consumers or PPO subscribers.

"The belief is that consumers in HMOs have less choice, and therefore less satisfaction than their counterparts in PPOs and traditional insurance plans," said Gary Pickens, senior vice president at Sachs Group, "but our research shows that this is not true. In terms of consumer satisfaction, HMOs are actually doing better than PPOs and traditional fee-for-service plans."

Sixty-seven percent of staff-model HMO subscribers are satisfied with the amount of time they spend waiting to see their doctors. Only 48 percent of indemnity respondents say they are satisfied.
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Title Annotation:Health Maintenance Organization
Publication:Health Management Technology
Date:Feb 1, 1994
Previous Article:Managed-care systems.
Next Article:HIMSS conference chairman calls for industry collaboration.

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