Input Desired on Kaiser Permanente for Health Insurance

Updated on December 28, 2010
M.H. asks from Littleton, CO
11 answers

My husband is changing jobs in June, and the company offers insurance through Kaiser. I am wanting experiences, both good and/or bad that people have had with Kaiser. We currently have individual coverage, and I am wondering if we should stick with what we have (less money, less coverage) or go with Kaiser (a little more money, a lot more coverage, a lot fewer options). I am hoping that you fellow moms out there can help out. I am very natural-minded--I prefer to make dietary and lifestyle changes, use herbs and homeopathics and vitamins before seeing a doctor. I had my daughter at home with a midwife, and currently see doctors and a pediatrician that are open to more natural/alternative remedies. Are there doctors at Kaiser like that? Are the OB/GYN doctors open to a very natural pregnancy--recommending herbs/vitamins before pharmaceuticals? Or, should we stick with our high-deductible plan with no maternity coverage and forget switching doctors and coverage? Also, any recommendations for a good OB/GYN through Kaiser, as well as a good pediatrician?

Thanks for the help!

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S.P.

answers from Denver on

Hi M.-
We just switched to Kaiser at the beginning of the year and I too, was so apprehensive. So far, I have been impressed and they are able to do things so effeciently because it's a huge company under one umbrella. When you need to see a specialist, the referral is instananeous (then you have to make your appt.) and it is convenient to be able to pick up prescriptions immediately after your appt. As mentioned above, I too have been able to avoid some visits and copays by emailing our drs. So far, so good. My deal with my husband was, let's try it for a year and if we don't like it, we will switch back...but I think we'll be sticking with Kaiser and honestly, I didn't think I would feel that way. Good luck!

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S.B.

answers from Denver on

I would not subject my worst enemy's dog to Kaiser Permanente. They are putting out this look right now that says that they are the most caring company in the world but I have had several family members have serious unchecked illnesses go YEARS before someone ran a standadrd blood test to find the real source of the illness. For two family members this meant a death sentence for another it was just short of death but wound up with a complete hysterectomy. Kaiser may be okay for every day care but pray that you do not get something serious for they will just not notice. Depending on your plan you may never see the same doctor twice in years and it has been made clear to me that the 'new' doctor you see every time will not read the charts and SOAPS of the last one.

I feel that the dr's are in too much of a hurry (maybe they have quotas or somethiung) to give a care if thier diagnosis is accurate or the patients concerns are met.

STEER CLEAR!
(stepping off of my soap box now)
Good luck

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L.T.

answers from Denver on

Hi M. - I am a Kaiser member and had our first baby 6 1/2 months ago on the HMO plan. I've been a member for 2 1/2 years. The experience was not as natural as I think you're looking for (I eventually had an emergency C-section b/c of his heartbeat dropping) but they are VERY observant of your wishes at St. Joseph's if you state them in advance. My midwife at the Franklin offices (near St. Joseph's in Denver) is Sorrel Crawmer. I loved going to pre-natal and still enjoy my post-natal visits with her. The midwives are unable to deliver babies in the Kaiser network, but we chose to see her with every visit b/c Kaiser cannot guarantee the doctor that delivers you. If this makes you squeemish, I completely understand, but we felt safe just knowing that a doctor was on call and would observe our wishes for the delivery as much as possible.

Our pediatrician is Sorenna Kirkegaard with the Skyline facilities (next door to Franklin). She's wonderful and is a very soothing presence at the facility. We met her at the hospital when Loudon was born and were happy with her visitation. She has 18-month old twin boys so it's nice to have a pediatrician/parent as Loudon's doctor.

We strive to be more holistic and natural at our house but Loudon has experienced some respiratory issues so he has been treated with antibiotics on two occasions b/c of pneumonia and an ear infection. He goes to daycare so he gets the lion's share of goop.

Good luck with your decision - Kaiser's been great to us and affordable. I carry the insurance with my job and am very happy we decided to go with them.

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L.M.

answers from Denver on

Kaiser is not like your ordinary health care coverage. Their medical offices not only have the doctors, but also a pharmacy, lab, x-rays and different specialists. They are huge on preventive care. They also have D.O.'s that utilize holistic approaches. You can visit one of their medical offices to get a tour and ask questions-even if you are not a member yet. What I love is that they have an online tool for members. You can see some of your medical history, order prescriptions and even better, you can email your doctor. I have avoided making appointments for little things just by emailing my doctor. She always gets back to me within 24 hours. I have been with Kaiser for a handful of years and to be honest, I just get the feeling that they care more about my health and the health of my children.

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K.N.

answers from Denver on

My husband changed jobs at the beginning of this year and had to give up our Kaiser. We had Kaiser coverage for many years without any problems. I had a natural birth and they were great with what I wanted. I agree with what was said before, I miss the convienence. I miss being able to email my doctor with any question or be able to see my labs online. There are many doctors to choose from and you may need to try a few to see who fits your needs.

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M.L.

answers from Denver on

WE are with Kaiser and haven't had a problem.Though I recommend going to Franklin St (ob/gyn-Dr Jazbec) and skyline (pediatrician-Dr Arnold-Rehring) before going to Aurora.
A midwife delivered my 2nd baby last year at St Joe's...great experience.
Good Luck

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E.G.

answers from Denver on

M.,
We had Kaiser insurance for many years and it was wonderful! We had the best of care and it was always "no hassle." This includes routine care for two adults and two children as well as treatment for major mdeical. The one time I selected a family doctor that did not live up to my expectations, all I had to do was select a different doctor (after getting input and recommendations from friends) call Kaiser and make the change. WE have individual care now and I would trade it for Kaiser in a heartbeat!
E.

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D.H.

answers from Denver on

Hi M.,

I absolutely think KP is great especially during pregnancy. After you deliver and go home, they send out a perinatal nurse to see how you and the baby are doing. They are nurses with lots of great advice and lactation knowledge. With each child they came out twice.

However, these are the cons:
1. Your doc does not necessarily deliver your baby. Any KP doc in the metro area can do the delivery. (Really I didn't mind this because the nurses do most of the work anyway, and the nurses at St. Joseph's Hospital are phenomenal!)

2. KP does offer a ton of services, but check the other insurance company. When we switched to my husband's insurance with United Health Care, we pay about $400 less per month and there are no copays. We get a bill later, but most services are under $20 dollars and we see more specialists now than before.

If you do choose KP and live near Belleview and Wadsworth, we loved our pediatrician at the SW clinic. Her name is Dr. Adrienne Silver. Anytime we wanted to see her, she was available. She's a mom of three and great with kids. Good luck.

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M.W.

answers from Denver on

Hi M.,

I had my 1st baby at home too even though I had full medical coverage through Kaiser. They have no out of network benefits so I wasn't reimbursed for any of my HB costs. I am having a second baby and will go the same route. I had all my bloodwork and a couple of ultrasounds done at KP. Check out what plan your new employer is offering, is it the HMO (no OON benes) or does it have an HSA that you can contribute to each month and use that money anywhere you want?

I find that Kaiser is very convenient. Your PCP, OBGYN, Pediatrician, labs, ultrasounds, pharmacy, etc are usually all in the same building, some of the smaller offices like SW don't have U/S, but for the most part you can get everything done in the same place. You can call the nurses line and they will troubleshoot with you over the phone, ask lots of questions, give you advice and let you know if they need to see you right away. That has been really nice with a young child. It saves you from going into the docs if it is not really that necessary.

What I have had problems with is finding a provider that I 'click' with. With individual practices, you can call around and find out what their style is, if they have similar values, do they treat with diet/lifestyle first then meds, etc. With Kaiser you just choose a PCP and see how it goes. So far I've been happy with my docs and my husband with his, but I've been less than impressed with the pediatricians. I also am natural minded and would prefer to try something natural before prescribing anything. I've been told by the peds that I am lucky no one died in my very dangerous HB. When I asked another if he suggested I take acidopholis when I went on antibiotics for a beast abscess (I was BF at the time), he said that it was unnecessary. When I asked a breastfeeding question at my 3 mo well baby check the doc said his wife didn't BF so he didn't know. I was told to start solids at 4 months. I've been lectured on vaccines. I *think* I may have found a ped that I am at least comfortable with now, she doesn't share some of my views, but I think she will respect them. I also think that I have grown a little thicker skin and am going to stand up for what I want a little better now.

For all the reasons I don't like Kaiser, there are some really great reasons that I do. I am glad that I have full medical coverage, even though I have to spend money out of pocket for things I can't get at Kaiser because of their HMO limitations. Good luck.

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K.D.

answers from Denver on

I know some people who are very happy with Kaiser. I know more people who have been very unhappy. Think serious surgical errors, etc. My current concern is a friend who has been having a miscarriage going on 5 weeks and the doctors (she's seen two over there) keep telling her this is normal and probably not a tubal pregnancy, something they mentioned as a very likely possibility at the beginning. No matter how much pain she is in, not to mention emotional pain, they have done nothing but tell her to come in and then send her home after a brief visit. I had heard it had changed, but I'm not so sure after helping my friend through this.

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R.N.

answers from Los Angeles on

It's better to stay away from Kaiser at any cost. Here are three reasons:

1. If a Doctor commits malpractice, all the other Doctors will defend the incompetent Doctor since the insurance and doctors are not separate, and they will go to all cost to defend themselves such as try to hurt the patient, in order to cover up their error rather than to do the ethical thing, which is to help cure the patient.

2. If you have a specific illness or cancer, you cannot go to some of the best places, such as "City of Hope". You're stuck with only Kaiser.

3. Kaiser is penny pinching on spending less money on outdated equipment and incompetent doctors and the combination can really hurt the patient. For example, if you go to Kaiser Sunset for a hearing loss problem, they will put you on a horizontal CT scan since they do not spend the money on a vertical CT scan and that can permanently injure your hearing, coupled by an IV injection of saline solution, which adds further perilymph pressure to the inner ear. There aren't enough competent Kaiser doctors who know that the combination is deadly to a hearing loss patient, and can cause the round window membrane to explode if the patient has high middle ear pressure. They have to be cautious, but they are not, since they are well protected, they don't care. If you have Kaiser, you'd better seriously do your homework on your ailment before they treat you, so you can prevent them from permanently hurting you.

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