Mike Causey's Nov. 5 column {Metro}, presumably written to enlighten federal employees on out-of-pocket costs for the various health-plan choices in the upcoming open season, contained a misleading quote from Gordon Brown, a health insurance expert. According to Mr. Brown, health maintenance organizations get high marks for low out-of-pocket payments, but enrollees must give up control over their medical care.

Mr. Brown may be a health insurance expert, but he sure doesn't know much about health care. People visit physicians because they want expert opinions or actions brought to bear on their problems. If they were capable of control, they wouldn't go to the doctor in the first place.

The patient's role in HMO health care is the same as anywhere else. Studies, including one sponsored by the American Medical Association, indicate that HMO care is equal or superior to the fee-for-service arena. Moreover, studies consistently demonstrate a higher level of satisfaction with HMO coverage than traditional insurance.

Gordon Brown was an efficient, honest and capable regulator when he was with the Office of Personnel Management. But most of his time was spent on regulating Blue Cross and Blue Shield. His cultural bias shows. JAMES F. DOHERTY President, Group Health Association of America Washington