What is a 'Health Maintenance Organization - HMO'

A health maintenance organization (HMO) is an organization that provides health coverage with providers under contract. A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) differs from traditional health insurance by the contracts it has with its providers. These contracts allow for premiums to be lower, because the health providers has the advantage of having patients directed to them; but these contracts also add additional restrictions to the HMO's members.

BREAKING DOWN 'Health Maintenance Organization - HMO'

HMO's are believed to have been started in the early 1900s when companies began to offer employees plans of prepaid medical service, and have done very well since. The HMO Act of 1973 helped to cement the HMO into the U.S. health system by providing grants to start or expand HMOs, removing many restrictions imposed by the individual states, and required employers with more than 25 employees to offer a federally-certified HMO to employees.

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