HMOs Remain Popular With Southern California Employers, Study Finds
HMOs thatÂ require physician organizations to assume some financial risks related to offering care have retained their popularity in Orange County, according to a report from the Center for Studying Health System Change, Modern Physician reports.
For the report -- titled, "Physicians Key to Health Maintenance Organization Popularity in Orange County" -- researchers conducted interviews with about 45 Orange County-area health care leaders in June 2010 (Lee, Modern Physician, 8/11).
Orange County is one of 12 communities nationwide that are monitored as part of the Community Tracking Study, which was launched in 1996. The Community Tracking Study is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute for Health Care Reform.
The study found that even though PPOs have grown more widespread in the last few years, HMOs remain popular in Orange County because of cost benefits and the number of health care provider optionsÂ (HSC release, 8/11).
Researchers also found that interest in tighter affiliations has grown among hospitals and physicians. For example, hospitals are creating medical practice foundations that employ physicians and are aligning with doctors in other ways. California law prohibits hospitals from employing physicians directly.
Consequently, the report found that competition is growing among hospitals and physician organizations to align or merge (Modern Physician, 8/11).
The report also found that:
- Hospitals have begun competing to treat well-insured patients in the wealthier southern and coastal parts of Orange County;
- Kaiser Permanente has secured a higher profile in the area by constructing a new hospital and relying less on contracts with other health care providers for patients' care; and
- Safety-net providers and stakeholders have increased efforts to attain federal funds to expand programs and capacity (HSC release, 8/11).