Word’s Out: Kaiser Permanente Health Plans Among Nation’s Best

Press Release
Nice looking middle-aged man siting on a sofa smiling
Warren Keppler

OAKLAND Calif. — Having forged a brilliant career as a teacher, trainer and motivational speaker, Warren Keppler was facing a life-changing decision. Tongue cancer was threatening to take away his profession and passion.

If he chose the most immediate solution — cut out the cancer — he’d most likely lose his voice and with it his means to make a living. If he chose the second, longer-term option — shrink the tumor through radiation and chemotherapy — it would be much harder on his body, but it might preserve his ability to speak.

Fortunately the 60-year-old Keppler, a Kaiser Permanente member from Walnut Creek, Calif., didn’t have to make the decision alone. His care team was with him every step of the way.

“My experience through my cancer journey here at Kaiser Permanente wasn’t just about competence — they were incredibly competent,” Keppler said. “It was beyond that. My nutritionist, my chemotherapy nurse, my two oncologists — they were my team. And they were keeping me on the right path.”

Warren’s story of the high-quality, coordinated and personalized care he received at Kaiser Permanente is a common one. Kaiser Permanente health plans again are among the best in the nation for consumer experience, prevention and treatment, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance report — NCQA’s Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2015-16 — which was published today. NCQA’s annual report rates more than 1,000 health plans, including Medicare, Medicaid and Private (Commercial), on a 1-to-5 scale, with 5 being the best. Only 21 health plans in the country were given a 5 out 5 this year, and Kaiser Permanente had 8 of them. No Kaiser Permanente health plan was rated lower than a 4.5.

In addition, all Kaiser Permanente health plans rate highest in both Medicare and Commercial in the areas they serve. Kaiser Permanente serves more than 10 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia.

Fab Fives

Kaiser Permanente health plans are again rated among the highest rated health plans in the nation, according to NCQA’s Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2015-16.

  • Kaiser Permanente Medicare health plans in Southern California, Northern California, Georgia, Mid-Atlantic States and Northwest are rated 5 out of 5. Only 9 Medicare plans (out of nearly 400) were rated a 5, and Kaiser Permanente has 5 of them.
  • Kaiser Permanente Commercial (Private) health plans in Northern California and Mid-Atlantic States are rated 5 out of 5. Only 11 Commercial plans (out of nearly 500) were rated a 5, and Kaiser Permanente has 2 of them.
  • Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s Medicaid plan is only Medicaid plan in the nation to be rated 5 out of 5. Nearly 150 Medicaid plans in the country were rated.

“Being recognized as the top-rated health plan in each of our areas is a tremendous accolade that reflects our relentless commitment to providing affordable, high-quality health care coverage to our members and the communities we serve,” said Patrick Courneya, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. “While Kaiser Permanente’s excellence is grounded in our clinical experience and evidence-based medicine approach, our focus on prevention and early intervention gives our members better opportunities for wellness.”

After consulting with his care team, Keppler opted for chemo-radiation therapy and, after a rigorous year of treatments, he emerged cancer-free. Perhaps most importantly, he retained his ability to speak.

“It wasn’t just about getting the job done,” Keppler said of his care team at Kaiser Permanente. “This was their livelihood. It was as if they were saying ‘I’m here because I care about you.’ The doctors, the nutritionist, the chemotherapy nurses — everyone took that tack.”

“Our tens of thousands of dedicated physicians, nurses, clinicians and care teams strive to put our patients at the center of everything we do,” said Scott Young, MD, associate executive director, The Permanente Federation, the national organization for nearly 18,000 physicians who provide care to Kaiser Permanente’s members. “And these results from NCQA validate that our quality care is working.”

The 2015-2016 NCQA award badge for best Medicare plansThe “NCQA’s Health Insurance Plan Ratings” are based on combined scores for health plans in the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set®, commonly called HEDIS; the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems®, or CAHPS; and NCQA Accreditation standards scores.

This is the 11th year NCQA has ranked or rated the nation’s health plans. From 2005-14, NCQA ranked the plans numerically from highest to lowest (for example, last year’s commercial plans were ranked from 1-507). This year NCQA is implementing a “ratings” system which classifies plans into scores from 0-5 in 0.5 increments. It is a method similar to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s 5-Star Quality Rating System.

The ratings and methodology are posted on the NCQA’s website at www.ncqa.org and on the Consumer Reports website. The ratings and an article about the quality and service performance of U.S. health plans will appear in the November issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 10 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.