In 1945, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser partnered with founding physician Sidney R. Garfield, MD, to open a system of prepaid care to the public in Northern California. Unions viewed the plan as labor-friendly and affordable and formed a huge and welcome membership base in the formative years.
In 1950, Kaiser started the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing to help fill a nursing shortage following World War II and in 1956, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. was established as an independent nonprofit California corporation.
Kaiser established the Kaiser Foundation Harbor Hospital in 1957 which was the first hospital in the country built for members of an employer-sponsored health care plan. It initially provided care to International Longshore and Warehouse Union employees and their families.
In 1976, as health care was changing, Kaiser Permanente’s demonstrated affordability was specifically acknowledged as they were recognized as the best health plan model for the groundbreaking Health Maintenance Organization Act, signed into law in December 1973. Kaiser had turned all of their health plans into qualified HMOs by 1976.
Electronic medical records came to Kaiser in 2003, Kaiser created secure, 24/7 access to up-to-date patient records with no geographic boundaries.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Kaiser dramatically increased its telehealth system. Virtual care visits rose from about 15% of all visits to about 80%, including more than 30,000 a day via video.
Together We Thrive.
Kaiser Permanente is an integrated managed care consortium that is based in Oakland, California. Kaiser is a bit different than many insurance companies in that it not only provides insurance but also owns the hospitals and clinics its customers typically access for care.
Kaiser Permanente is made up of three interdependent groups: the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. (KFHP) and its regional operating subsidiaries, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and the regional Permanente Medical Groups.
Kaiser is the largest managed care organization in the United States and currently has over 12 million members and operates 39 hospitals. In addition, Kaiser has over 700 medical offices and employs 217,000 personnel which includes over 80,000 physicians and nurses.
Kaiser Permanente earned the number 1 spot in our annual Best Health Insurance Companies review. They earned 3.5 to 4 out of 5-star ratings in each category including claims, price, customer service and website & apps.
Eighty-seven percent of Kaiser Permanente customers said they would recommend the company to others and 90% said they planned to renew their plan with Kaiser.
The complaint data is gathered from the NAIC Complaint Index, which collects complaint information from state insurance regulators and then compares a company’s performance to other companies in the same insurance market. The national average is always calculated to be 1.00; those above 1.00 are worse than the national average and those below are better (have less complaints) than the national average. Read more at the NAIC website.
Note: Many companies have a variety of subsidiaries listed with the NAIC, the one rated here may be different than the one that writes your policy. Check with your company/agent for specific information.