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Kinder and Gentler: Physicians and Managed Care, 1997-2001

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Publication Date: November 2002

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Bradley C. Strunk; James D. Reschovsky

Series: Tracking Report No. 5

Topic: Health (Health care financing)

Type: Report


Despite the managed care backlash, an overwhelming majority of U.S. physicians continue to contract with managed care health plans. In fact, according to a new Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) study, between 1997 and 2001 physicians reported a modest increase in the proportion of practice revenue from managed care contracts and the average number of contracts. At the same time, the nature of physicians' relationships with health plans changed, with a significant decrease in plans' use of capitation, or fixed monthly payments for each patient regardless of the amount of care provided. Meanwhile, physician practices moved away from using direct financial incentives to influence doctors' clinical decision making, but did experience an increase in the overall influence of treatment guidelines and other practices commonly associated with managed care.