Essay on The Problems with HMOs

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The Problems with HMOs

It was no surprise when I interviewed my English class about HMOs, that out of 13 students, seven currently having HMO coverage, 77% felt HMO healthcare inferior to traditional insurance. This group closely represents the U.S. population, as HMOs have become practically synonymous with health care and the idea that Americans are no longer receiving the quality care they received from unmanaged plans. Managed care plans have succeeded in dramatically cutting the rate at which medical spending in the United States has been growing. Does it matter that 100 years after Lincoln freed the slaves that we have found another way to trade lives for money? HMOs have introduced an innovative way to provide health services:
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At the beginning of the 1990s, there were nearly 600 HMOs across America and they were regarded as a practical alternative to escalating medical costs. By 1998, it was clear that HMOs were out of control, leaving a trail of angry and neglected patients in their path. Physicians have also begun speaking out against HMOs in increasing numbers. According to Dr. Daniel J. Esposito, the main problem with HMOs is that, "there are no economic incentives to take care of people. The incentive is not to do anything" ("More Trouble With Managed Care" PG).
What happened? How could something, which started out so promising, have gone so terribly wrong? In a survey conducted by Harvard University in conjunction with the Kaiser Family foundation, it was revealed that 51 percent of Americans polled believe that HMOs are responsible for the deteriorating quality of their health care. Fifty-five percent expressed concern that HMOs were more preoccupied with cost-cutting measures than with providing the best possible medical care for the patients they serve ("The HMOs Image Problem; Public Distrust Can be Cured By Ensuring Patient Rights" 8). This certainly does not sound like the all-purpose solution to quality and affordable medical care the government was looking for when it began
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