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I've been a member of Kaiser Permanente for more than 25 years. When I enrolled, it was considered the best HMO available. It was much lower in cost than alternatives. I could use outside providers for very little more. The doctors were all splendid. I sent countless friends and clients to them. The cost skyrocketed over the years. In the year before the ACA was enacted, I was paying just under $800 monthly for increasingly poor care and ever-increasing co-pays and deductibles. Doctor turnover was (and remains) huge. Kaiser became the only ACA insurance available after a few years and the obviously enormous increase in patient load made things even worse. They are understaffed and getting an appointment, Covid or not, takes forever. Thankfully, I qualified for Medicare a few years ago and costs dropped significantly for me, but the care has continued to worsen.
The worst thing about Kaiser is the reversal of its original marketing message -- that patients should take an "active" role in their care. You were encouraged to do your own research and discuss your doctor's diagnosis, even challenging it. All of that is gone. I mean GONE. The doctors stereotypically regard themselves as infallible and resent any questioning of them. One of my doctors is so detached and irritable that they are like a cartoon parody that causes me to laugh for the wrong reasons. I've been refused essential tests that earlier doctors ordered every year because of a medical condition; it turned out the doctors had not even read my "chart" and didn't know about the condition.
Every time I've been assigned a new doctor, I go through a major struggle over a vital medication I've taken over 25 years. I have to battle them for weeks over it and it's obviously all because the drug was stupidly classified as a controlled substance and they don't want to be accused by the feds of over-prescribing it. I understand that, but how about checking my history and calling my original specialist? It always works out, but it's involved loud arguing and the implicit accusation that I'm abusing the drug.
Now, of course, we're all dealing with Covid. Friends with other insurance companies have received information about vaccines and have already been granted appointments. Kaiser? No way. Just the usual vague rhetoric. They push you away and tell you to contact your county health department. Seriously. I wish I had left Kaiser years ago, but there are advantages to it. A principal one is the way lab services, radiology, pharmacy, even some surgery are all done under the same roof. The same is available through Emory here in Atlanta and the rumor was that it would be allying with Kaiser. Unfortunately, it hasn't. There are of course devoted people at Kaiser. Here's one secret: Whenever possible, ask to see an NP or PA. They are ALWAYS more thorough than the MDs and actually listen to you.
Kaiser won't let me take a COVID Test despite being insured by them and experiencing loss of smell and taste. I played by the rules and stayed away from the clinic/hospital this whole year to avoid overwhelming them since they were going to have their hands full with COVID Patients. I am experiencing symptoms and need to get tested to avoid spreading to my coworkers and customers. I can't afford to quarantine myself because I wont get paid. I don't get all the free stuff that unemployed people get. It's just disappointing that Kaiser will not let me take a test with the symptoms that I have and with my history of 3 heart attacks. I'm a paying customer and an essential worker. Meanwhile my unemployed friend has taken five COVID tests already and has no issues at all. It's not right and I expect more from my healthcare provider. Abandoning me when I need you is not right.
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I've had them for a couple of years now and it's been a good experience. Reasonable premiums and good care. Because of their business model, you don't have to worry about being denied coverage or unexpected charges.
Long phone wait times, inability to access doctors' offices to leave message, extraordinarily long wait times to talk to appointment schedulers, same thing for pharmacy inquiries. There seems to be no accountability for any issues. Contacting member services is a joke - they don't care. These seem like systemic problems that Kaiser is unwilling to fix and is hiding from the public.
Very long wait times on phone, and then not helpful, the website sucks, wait time for an appointment is over 30 days. Crappy doctors, expensive for the little you get. They have excuses for not giving proper care.
Everything that is wrong with health care in the US summed up in one company. Seems cheap at first, but WAY MORE EXPENSIVE. Their estimator gives you a price and it will be at least 2x more. They are a "non-profit" company, but their CEO makes $7000/hr, yep $7K/hr, $16M/yr. They will do everything in their power to keep you from receiving health care. Just spend a little more on the premiums and maybe get actual health care with ANY OTHER COMPANY.
Kaiser claims that they have a "team" approach to care. What they fail to mention is that no one coordinates the efforts, especially in serious cases that require the collaboration of many departments. The elderly terminally ill patient is forced to navigate the many individual departments with their separate advice nurses, social workers, doctors, pharmacies, etc. No one is overseeing the procedure for these people! The system is broken, operating solely for profit. Do not enter into their maze of confused, uncoordinated, impersonal care. Zoom for seniors is not thoughtful care! I implore you to seek a more compassionate, less corporate approach to health care. Kaiser puts profits above patients and their business plan is to cut more locations and staff. Buyer Beware!!!!
We were never that impressed with our highly overpriced premiums and a ridiculous deductible that isn't even covered by the HSA amount we are allowed to contribute. The last straw was letting us know we could no longer use our local pharmacy and had to go through the company store. Which on the first interaction with them, they got my prescription wrong and raised the dosage by 50% of what my doctor prescribed. I'm just worried about seniors or people who may not notice the change and take amounts of medications that may be harmful to them and calling the help line...don't get me started...We started out with Group Health because we want a local organization. We tried it for a year but we have switched to Regence now & we won't miss you. You have milked us dry. Now we're getting better coverage for less...Bye Felicia!
They will not answer the phone for my doctor simply to obtain a fax for referral. Once you realize that they don't respond to messages via email, you can queue up 14-down-the-line (30 minutes) for chat on their site under a specific category. Slow chats back and forth will end in them telling you to call their provider. Prepare to stay on the line for 45-minutes only to make a phone appointment 5-days later where they can then make an appointment for you. HOWEVER, they cannot. That person offers a call-back in 2-3 weeks to get an appointment, the appointment will then be vaguely a few months out. The pharmacy services are delightful and should get a 5-star review. The health care staff need a new label, they are not providers.
So many complaints, so little time. I am scheduled for a colonoscopy and the nurse called with the prep instructions. I was billed $75.00 for a nurse call. Are you kidding? I went to my OB/GYN and was put into an exam room where I waited for one hour for the doctor to come in. No one had the professional courtesy to come in and explain why the doctor was delayed. When the doctor did come in, I explained that I was upset about the delay. Her comment, “I’m sorry, but it’s not like I was having a cup of coffee.” Are you kidding? You have to drive all over the place just to be seen by a specialist. Are you kidding?
Kaiser Permanente author review by Joseph Burns
Kaiser Permanente is a unique health care management program that is located mainly in the western United States. In California, Colorado and seven other states, patients who have Kaiser coverage get health care services, including hospital stays, at Kaiser health facilities.
Offers low-cost health plans: Kaiser offers several different levels of service with varying premiums, deductibles and co-pays.
Kaiser offers all services itself: This company provides health care services as well as health care coverage, making it easier to get needed services and file claims.
Online application process: It’s easy to get a quote and sign up for Kaiser.
Kaiser Permanente Insurance Company Information
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- Kaiser Permanente
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