Minnesota HMOs have a slow year

Minnesota's HMOs had a rough 2006, with enrollment and profits dropping despite premium increases that exceeded those in the year before. Enrollment fell 8.2 percent last year, down to 915,000, from 997,000 in 2005, as employers continued to move into traditional plans, researchers say.

These changes aren't just a random year-to-year fluctuation. They represent overall market shifts, in which even the HMOs themselves are building traditional health plans to avoid HMO-related coverage requirements. Still, the HMOs haven't worn out their welcome, it seems, as roughly one in four beneficiaries still remain in such a plan. What's more, with HMOs expanding their networks to the point where they are similar to PPO networks, the distinction isn't as important, executives suggest.

To find out more about the HMOs' situation:
- read this Minneapolis Star-Tribune article