Research should move beyond the simple dichotomy between HMO and non-HMO care provision, and embrace the multidimensional aspects of HMOs. Doing so, we argue, helps address the issue of HMO performance. We used a consumer-centered approach to distinguish multiform HMOs and asked the questions, "Do HMOs differ in their consumer-friendly characteristics?" and if so, "Are these characteristics associated with different preventive health care utilization outcomes?" In this exploratory study, the consumer-friendly characteristics of both Medicaid HMOs and private HMOs were examined in relationship to consumers' utilization of preventive care services. HMOs did differ in their consumer-friendly characteristics, and some of these characteristics were significantly associated with the utilization of preventive care services.