health-maintenance organization

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A variety of health care organization that arose in the United States, comprising groups of physicians and other health care professionals who provide therapeutic care and sometimes preventive medical screening services for enrolled persons and family groups but seldom provide insurance coverage for health-promotion and counseling services. HMOs may be nonprofit or profit-making organizations. They usually have clinics affiliated with hospitals that allocate beds to the enrolled members who need inpatient care. The services are provided for fixed fees with contractual limitations on referrals for more specialized services than those the HMO can provide, a situation that can cause frustration and dissatisfaction for patients and their physicians.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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