Despite the state seizure of three California HMOs this year, two new surveys, both in California, indicate consumers generally feel good about their relationships with their plan's doctors.
California's first-ever report card on HMOs assessed 17 health plans serving more than 20 million enrollees. The reports, which will be released annually by the California Department of Managed Health Care, stem from 1999 legislation aimed at increasing HMOs' accountability and giving all Californians easy access to healthcare information.
The HMOs were rated on 57 indicators grouped into five categories: wellness care, treating acute illnesses, dealing with chronic illnesses, doctors' communication and service, and service from the HMO itself.
All 17 HMOs earned high ratings for the quality of doctor-patient relationships but fared the worst in the treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes, mental illnesses and sexually transmitted diseases. The HMOs voluntarily participated in the survey.
In a separate survey of more than 21,000 California HMO members, 87% of respondents said their physicians usually or always listen to them carefully. But about 26% of the members had to wait more than a half-hour past their scheduled appointments.
Conducted by the Pacific Business Group on Health and the California Cooperative Healthcare Reporting Initiative, the survey involved members of four health plans and 59 medical groups.