Does type of health insurance affect health care use and assessments of care among the privately insured?

Health Serv Res. 2000 Apr;35(1 Pt 2):219-37.


Objective: To inform the debate about managed care by examining how different types of private insurance-indemnity insurance, PPOs, open model HMOs, and closed model HMOs-affect the use of health services and consumer assessments of care.

Data sources/data collection: The 1996-1997 Community Tracking Study Household Survey, a nationally representative telephone survey of households, and the Community Tracking Study Insurance Followback Survey, a supplement to the Household Survey, which asks insurance organizations to match household respondents to specific insurance products. The analysis sample includes 27,257 nonelderly individuals covered by private insurance.

Study design: Based on insurer reports, individuals are grouped into one of the four insurance product types. Measures of service use include ambulatory visits, preventive care use, hospital use, surgeries, specialist use, and whether there is a usual source of care. Consumer assessments of care include unmet or delayed care needs, satisfaction with health care, ratings of the last physician visit, and trust in physicians. Estimates are adjusted to control for differences in individual characteristics and location.

Principal findings: As one moves from indemnity insurance to PPOs to open model HMOs to closed model HMOs, use of primary care increases modestly but use of specialists is reduced. Few differences are observed in other areas of service use, such as preventive care, hospital use, and surgeries. The likelihood of having unmet or delayed care does not vary by insurance type, but the reasons that underlie such access problems do vary: enrollees in more managed products are less likely to cite financial barriers to care but are more likely to perceive problems in provider access, convenience, and organizational factors. Consumer assessments of care-including satisfaction with care, ratings of the last physician visit, and trust in physicians-are generally lower under more managed products, particularly closed model HMOs.

Conclusions: The type of insurance that people have-not just whether it is managed care but the type of managed care-affects their use of services and their assessments of the care they receive. Consumers and policymakers should be reminded that managed care encompasses a variety of types of insurance products that have different effects and may require different policy responses.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Maintenance Organizations / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Research / methods
  • Health Services Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / classification*
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction* / statistics & numerical data
  • Preferred Provider Organizations / statistics & numerical data
  • Private Sector / classification*
  • Private Sector / statistics & numerical data
  • Random Allocation
  • Regression Analysis
  • United States