Before choosing an HMO, talk to people you know who are enrolled in an HMO managed care plan. Ask them how they like the services, the care that is provided and the range of benefit coverage under their plans.
Some questions you should consider:
- Are there many doctors to choose from? Do you select from a list of contract physicians (a network) or from the available staff of a group practice? Which doctors are accepting new patients? How hard is it to change doctors if you decide you want someone else? How are referrals to specialists handled?
- Is it easy to get appointments? How far in advance must routine visits be scheduled? What arrangements does the HMO have for handling emergency care?
- Does the HMO offer the services I want? What preventive services are provided? Are there limits on medical tests, surgery, mental health care, home care, or other support offered? What if you need a special service not provided by the HMO?
- What is the service area of the HMO? Where are the facilities located in your community that serve HMO members? How convenient to your home and workplace are the doctors, hospitals, and emergency care centers that make up the HMO network? What happens if you or a family member are out of town and need medical treatment?
- What will the HMO plan cost? What is the yearly total for monthly fees? In addition, are there co-payments for office visits, emergency care, prescribed drugs, or other services? How much?