health maintenance organization (HMO)

health maintenance organization (HMO)

Public or private organization providing comprehensive medical care to subscribers on the basis of a prepaid contract. HMOs deliver a broad range of health services for a fixed fee. In the prepaid group-practice model, physicians are organized into a group practice with one insuring agency. A medical care foundation, or individual practice association, usually involves multiple insurance companies and reimburses members of a loose network of individual physicians from subscribers' prepaid fees. Originally viewed as a way to control health-care costs and meet increased demand for health services, HMOs have become controversial because some limit care by refusing to pay for tests or treatment against their own doctors' advice.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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