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Health Care Perceptions and Experiences: It's Not Whether You Are in an HMO, It's Whether You Think You Are

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Publication Date: September 2000

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): James D. Reschovsky; J. Lee Hargraves

Series: Issue Brief No. 30

Topic: Health (Quality of health care)

Type: Brief


Survey results suggest that most people have negative attitudes about health maintenance organizations (HMOs), even members of HMOs who are satisfied with their own care. This Issue Brief illustrates how perceptions of HMOs may color peoples' ratings of their own health care. According to new findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), differences in ratings between privately insured people in HMOs and other types of insurance are in part attributable to peoples' perceptions of the type of health plan they are in, not the actual type of plan they are covered by. These results, which have implications for efforts to regulate managed care, suggest that reliance on attitudinal surveys alone are likely to provide a somewhat distorted and more negative view of care in HMOs, thereby exaggerating differences in how people assess the care they receive.