Kaiser Permanente Review – 2019

There are big benefits for small businesses providing health insurance to their employees. Whether its tax credits and benefits, greater job satisfaction and productivity, easier recruitment and retention, or fewer sick days, the upsides to small business health plans are clear. But too few small businesses offer company health insurance, often because it’s selecting a plan is a confusing and time-intensive process for busy employers.

Kaiser Permanente overview

Kaiser Permanente offers consistent quality of care across their network which, though large, is concentrated in some areas of the country. Compared to other American health insurance providers like Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) and UnitedHeathcare, Kaiser Permanente is relatively small, only active in eight states. However, they do offer plans which allow access to outside providers, offsetting this potential disadvantage.

They also offer a great choice of plans at relatively affordable rates compared to other health insurance companies and excellent supporting online tools and plan management services.

However, if you’re in one of the states where Kaiser Permanente operates, you should consider getting your small business health plan and care from them. Kaiser Permanente insurance premiums tend to be low compared to other top health insurance providers and because they offer their own system of doctors, hospitals, and medical specialists, the quality of care across their network is consistent.

Kaiser Permanente features

Similar to Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente’s features will differ according to your health plan, of which they have many. First, we’ll look at the features small businesses Kaiser Permanente clients, before tackling the specifics of particular health plans, such as what they cover, and how to know if they’re right for your small business.

We’ve already showed you Kaiser Permanente’s helpful online tool that helps you find a doctor or health facility. Since the Kaiser Permanente network fairly small, it’s important to know that they’re currently only operating in the following states and areas:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.

Despite this, Kaiser Permanente offer a number of other helpful features that small business employees will welcome.

Kaiser Permanente provide guidance and information to help maximize health and wellbeing among small business members, which can be accessed online at any time.

Kaiser Permanente are unusual for paying close attention to language accessibility. They employee translators and provide much of their information in multiple languages, helpful for small businesses employing people who speak English as a foreign language.

The ease of accessing support or further information with Kaiser Permanente varies. They do provide some excellent help and support features, like a comprehensive online FAQ page, live chat, and a toll free number as well as TTY for hearing-impaired callers.

However, if a general phone number and email contact details were not easy to locate at the time of writing.

Kaiser Permanente plans for small businesses

Although Kaiser Permanente is unevenly distributed across the United States, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to offer small businesses. They currently claim to have over 17,000 physicians, more than 600 medical or outpatient facilities, and 38 hospitals in their direct control.

As a result, Kaiser Permanente offers as broad a range of health plans as many of their larger competitors. These plans fall into six main types:

1. Traditional HMO Plans

The strength of this group of health plans from the perspective of small businesses is the emphasis on predictability. Due to the cost sharing system and out-of-pocket maximums, managing health spending is much easier.

With consistent month-to-month costs and lower copays and zero deductibles, this type of health plan would already be attractive. But Kaiser Permanente’s HMO plans are also less bureaucratic for the employee, with no claim forms to take care of when accessing care at network medical locations.

2. Deductible HMO Plans

Similar to traditional HMO plans, but with lower premiums in exchange for the inclusion of deductibles. You can also pair your deductible HMO plan with a health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement arrangement (HRA).

3. HRA and HSA Qualified Plans

These Kaiser Permanente plans come with lower premiums than the other health plans with the additional benefit of tax savings. As a result, they’re good for cost conscious employers and employees.

These plans also offer a greater degree of control of health spending and feature useful online decision making tools. You’ll also get access to the same quality of care and services as members on the traditional HMO plans.

4. Deductible HMO with HRA Plans

Combining the total cost advantages of a traditional deductible HMO and the tax benefits of an HRA health plan, these plans also offer employees an impressive level of control over their health spending and care. You’ll also get the same online decision making tools as with other plans.

The inclusion of preventive services, including routine exams and physicals, is also an advantage.

5. PPO Plans

If your small business has employees who live or work outside of the geographic areas covered by Kaiser Permanente, this plan can support their healthcare needs. It’s also ideal if you believe your employees will want to keep seeing their own or any other outside doctor, as members get referral-free access to any licensed provider.

6. Point-of-Service Plans

If your employees will enjoy a mixture of cost savings and flexibility, Kaiser Permanente’s point-of-service plans blend a traditional HMO plan with a PPO. This results in comprehensive support and choice within Kaiser Permanente service areas with the ability to go out of their network if necessary. Lower costs do come with a more limited choice, however.

Alternatives to Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is most similar to Humana among the other top health insurance providers we’ve reviewed. Both are concentrated in particular areas of the country while offering quality care at a consistent level in those areas, often through their own health centers. If Kaiser Permanente sounds appealing for these reasons, consider Humana’s health plans, too.

Kaiser Permanente: The verdict for small businesses

Kaiser Permanente offers consistent quality of care across their network which, though large, is concentrated in some areas of the country. However, they do offer plans which allow access to outside providers, offsetting this potential disadvantage.

They also offer a great choice of plans at relatively affordable rates compared to other health insurance companies and excellent supporting online tools and plan management services.

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