Improving the method Medicare uses to pay health maintenance organizations and competitive medical plans

by Joseph P. Newhouse


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback9 pages $20.00 $16.00 20% Web Discount

This paper, the text of a statement before the Subcommittee on Health, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, March 10, 1988, discusses improving the method Medicare uses to pay health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and competitive medical plans. The author outlines inadequacies in the current payment method--the adjusted average per capita cost (AAPCC)--which is able to explain only about 1 percent of the variations in health care expenditures. In order to achieve an estimated 15 to 20 percent improvement in predictions of cost variations, the author recommends adding adjusters to the formula. The most promising short-term strategy is to introduce measures of utilization into the formula; the most promising step for the mid-term would be to base only a portion of the HMO's reimbursement on an improved AAPCC and base the remainder on the nature of the actual services given an individual.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.