Study Tracks HMOs' Community Service Activities

Defining and measuring community benefit in managed health care

From 1997 to 2001, researchers from the New York Academy of Medicine and Yale University collaborated in an investigation of the potential of managed care organizations to benefit the communities in which they operate.

Key Findings

  • The researchers concluded that HMOs engaged in a wide variety of activities that improve the health of local communities as a whole, not just enrolled members.
  • The researchers identified three trends encouraging the managed care industry to adopt practices and policies that benefit their communities:
    • The growing reach and power of managed care organizations.
    • The growing demands for accountability.
    • The increasing recognition of non-clinical factors — including economic, social and environmental conditions — on the health of populations.
  • Although the majority of surveyed HMOs in both the nonprofit and for-profit sector asserted their commitment to some form of community service, nonprofits were significantly more likely than for-profits to engage in actual community benefit practices.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project through a grant of $499,944 to the New York Academy of Medicine.