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The number of people who are enrolled in HMOs have grown by astronomical numbers in recent years. Many times you don't have a whole lot of choices about which HMO you choose. You simply enroll in the one your employer offers you. How do you know if you have a good HMO, or if there are better ones out there? Here are some ways you can figure out if your HMO measures up.

• Check out the National Commission for Quality Assurance. This is a nonprofit organization that tests HMO performances. This group considers different qualities of each HMO and creates a formula to find out which ones are the best and which ones aren't measuring up.
• Care access. You want an HMO that is going to give you as many options as possible. If you have complained about how your HMO doesn't give you many choices of doctors or if you have to wait a long time in order to see a physician, your HMO isn't as good as it could be.
• Appointment availability. If you have trouble getting scheduled for an appointment for a doctor on your HMO, you are not with one of the better HMOs. The entire point of being a member of an HMO is so you have better access and more choices in your medical care. It should not limit you.
• Satisfaction. Would you recommend the plan to someone else? If your answer is no, you are probably not a member of a good HMO. You want to be involved with the HMO that is right for your needs. If you aren't satisfied with your service to the extent that you'd recommend that someone else consider becoming a member, you are not a member of a good HMO for you.
• Services. Does your HMO include traditional services like pap smears, cholesterol screenings and child immunizations? If so, that is a good point. What about serious conditions? Will your HMO cover cesarian sections or angioplasty? While there is no real way to gauge whether in general covering or not covering these serious conditions and treatments on your HMO means you're with a good HMO, you want to be included on an HMO that covers as many different potential ailments as possible for you and your family.