Utilization control in HMOs

L. Debrock, R. J. Arnould

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) have emerged as a major vehicle to reduce transaction costs associated with defining the limits of health insurance coverage and to provide appropriate provider incentives. This article explains the heterogeneous set of incentives used by HMOs to reimburse providers and performs empirical tests of their effectiveness. The empirical analyses reveal that utilization of health care services is reduced when (1) physician compensation is based on salary or capitation arrangements rather than some measure of output; (2) bonuses and paybacks are based on individual rather than group performance; and (3) when the HMO operates as a proprietary (for-profit) organization. Utilization is not significantly affected by incentives placed on the hospital. Finally, physician ownership of the HMO was found to lead to higher levels of utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-53
Number of pages23
JournalThe Quarterly review of economics and finance : journal of the Midwest Economics Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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