managed health care, system of health-care delivery that aims to control costs by assigning set fees for services, monitoring the need for procedures such as tests and surgical operations, and stressing preventive care. Managed health-care systems include health maintenance organizations; preferred provider organizations (PPOs), networks of doctors and hospitals that adhere to given guidelines and fees in return for receiving a certain number of patients; and point of service (POS) plans, which are similar to PPOs but allow patients to go outside the network for treatment, usually at a higher cost. The term is also used to describe more traditional health-insurance plans that require that more expensive procedures be reviewed and approved by a plan official before they are performed. In managed care, the doctor is often paid a set fee or is paid a set amount monthly for each patient, a scheme called capitation. Many physicians criticize managed care systems, saying that they take away their freedom to make treatment decisions, that they are motivated mainly by economics, and that they do not consider patients as individuals. Managed health-care systems also limit doctors' incomes and what many people consider to be the abuses of the older fee-for-service system that rewarded doctors financially for doing more procedures. See also health insurance.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.