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July 3, 1996

Health Plan Accountability Still a Long-term Goal

JAMA. 1996;276(1):10-11. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540010012005

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ASSURING THE QUALITY of managed care plans as they become increasingly prominent in the provision of health care means mounting pressure on measuring their performance. The demand comes from potential plan purchasers, consumers, and purveyors of the plans themselves.

The immediate driving force may be cost—the best service for the least money—but the ultimate goal is to achieve accountability and maintain high-quality service. This goal is a long way off, maybe as long as 8 or 10 years, according to speakers at a spring meeting of the American Peer Review Association held in Arlington, Va.

Although there is no agreement yet on how to achieve health care plan accountability, it was clear from presentations at the meeting that discussions on the issue are well under way.

Concern about rising expenditures for health care has fostered the growth of managed care. But "there is a wide variation in what we call