NU Online News Service, Nov. 29, 11:23 a.m. – The Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, says preferred provider organizations have made big gains over the past decade.

PPOs are plans that encourage or require members to go to physicians within their networks but make little effort to limit access to specialists. They get less attention than health maintenance organizations, but the PPO was the most popular type of health plan in 2000, EBRI reports.

EBRI covered 44% of all U.S. residents who had health coverage in 2000, up from 24% in 1992, EBRI says.

Managed care plans of all types covered 70.8% of all Americans last year.

But EBRI continues to see big gaps in use of managed care for members of commercial plans and government plans.

Only 28.3% of the members of Medicaid and Medicare plans were enrolled in managed care programs in 2000, compared with 75.3% of the members of commercial plans, EBRI says.

EBRI will be publishing the figures soon in a new fact sheet, “Health Insurance Enrollment by Plan Type, 1992-2000,” on the EBRI Web site, at http://www.ebri.org/facts/index.htm

At press time, the fact sheet was not yet up on the EBRI site.