What do physician recommendations of health plans mean?

Douglas R Wholey, Jon B Christianson, Kristina Fossum Jones, Michael Finch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine what determines physician recommendations of health plans and whether their recommendations reflect experiences with specific plans. Study design: Cross-sectional mail and telephone survey. Participants and methods: A sample of 11 453 physicians was surveyed from November 2000 to early 2001, and 3798 (2105 generalists, 1693 specialists) responded. After adjusting for ineligibles and duplicates, the response rate was estimated to be between 41 % and 45%. Physician respondents were from 23 health plans in 5 regions: Florida, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Plans included those serving commercial, Medicare and Medicaid populations and represented group/staff type HMOs, independent practice associations, and preferred provider organizations. Measurements included self-reported experience with 9 health plan care management strategies and ratings of managed care beliefs and satisfaction with pay. Physicians were asked about their willingness to recommend the health plan to a family member or friend, to people with serious illnesses, or to other physicians. Results: Physician recommendations of a health plan were associated with the health plan's care management activities and with the physician's generalized beliefs about managed care and satisfaction with pay. Conclusion: Physician health plan recommendations can reasonably be interpreted as partially reflecting physician experiences with specific plans. Therefore, they can play a role in helping purchasers and consumers compare health plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Managed Care
Issue numberSPEC. ISS. 2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


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