NU Online News Service, Dec. 17, 2003, 4:22 p.m. EST – Preferred provider organizations appear to be increasing their lead over health maintenance organizations, according to InterStudy Publications, St. Paul, Minn.[@@]

The research firm reports that PPO penetration rates exceeded HMO penetration rates in 91% of all U.S. counties in 2002.

PPOs are getting the majority of their growth by taking business away from HMOs, the firm says.

The firm has based its conclusions on information it collected for a new database that gives detailed, county-by-county PPO market statistics.