MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA -- I applied for Kaiser's health insurance at the beginning of January 2009 with the intention of starting health coverage at the beginning of March, however now I don't believe that this will happen.
I wasn't very happy when I found out that I needed to fill in a 20 page health questionnaire when I started the application process online, especially since I had never had to do one with Blue Cross, but I pushed through it anyway. I finally got to the Women's health section of the application where they asked when was your last period. Since I am on Depo (birth control shot who's side effect is stopping a woman's period) I answered truthfully with September 2003. Of course this pulled up all kinds of red flag warnings on the site, it then asked me why which of course I answered with "taking Depo".
I didn't hear anything from Kaiser for almost a month and when I went to check my application status online it just said 'processing'. I finally received a phone call from someone at Kaiser (9:00 at night) asking me, once again, when my last period was and what medication/birth control I was on. Finally I received a letter from them, basically implying that they didn't trust me and that I would have to go down to one of their lab facilities and take a pregnancy test, before they would consider my application.
Oh and they apparently only gave me two weeks to complete this from the date that the letter was written (one week and one day from when the letter was actually delivered) or they would figure that I was pregnant and they would throw away me application.
My anguish is over the fact that if they were actually medical professionals then they would know that one of the side effects of taking Depo is that you do not receive your period and that if I had been pregnant since September 2003...I would be DEAD (with a 5 year old inside)! Even after I take this pregnancy test, they can still deny me...a perfectly healthy 25 year old with no prior medical problems...WTF? Just because I am on birth control? If you apply to Kaiser just know that you might be in for a very long, hassled time!
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- My wife and I are life long Kaiser members and medicare part d participants, so you can imagine the shock we experienced when we learned that we can (and now do) get all of our prescriptions filled at either Costco or Walmart.
When I filed a grievance, Kaiser responded that these stores charge lower prices to get customers "in the door". Is not Kaiser getting millions in medicare part d funds? I am going to list the specific drugs my wife and I use; the price comparisons are based on prices quoted by Kaiser, as well as prices we are now paying at Costco. We require medications for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol. Keep in mind that any customer at Costco can get these prices; no special membership is required other than what all customers are required to do to be eligible to shop there: please note that all drugs are the same dosage, and same quantity.
Price comparison of prescription drugs at
Generic drug Costco Kaiser difference
1) amlodpine 8.32 19.80 11.48
2) Lovastatin 10.83 20. 9.17
3) Glipizide 14.36 20. 5.64
4) Metformin 6.60 20. 13.40
5) Atenolol 6.50 10. 3.50
6) Lisinopril 7.91 19.60 11.69
Please note that with items 1,4 & 6, the Kaiser charge was twice what Costco charged.
I work for KP in northern Ca, and I am very satisfied with KP's quality of service- Not because I personally receive great service from my doctor, and staff from receptionists to medical specialists, but because I have the opportunity to hear the comments from hundreds of patients per day, almost all of which are positive.
Yes there are going to be those who may not like their doctor, or get billed incorrectly, or may have some other minor complaint, but there is always a way to get these matters corrected. Taking time to learn the KP system will provide a tremendous change of experience. If you aren't happy with your doctor, look for a new one. If you aren't happy with the way your doctor diagnoses you, request a specialist.
KP is the largest medical system that provides 99% of all medical needs, (there are a couple procedures that KP outsources, such as PET's, and Lasik eye surgery) providing a patient with a seamless continuity of care not found with any other medical system, including Canada's universal health system.
My main point is that the system is like clock-work providing you have a good doctor, or pcp. A good Kaiser doctor acts as a central hub for all other care you may require from KP, such as specialists, medicine, and surgery pre/post checkups. After you have lab work, or a mammogram, or whatever test, your pcp should be proactively calling you to inform you if anything is out of range.
I think Kaiser Permanente is awesome. I have been happy with them for over 20 years, and I have only been working for them for 3 years. Now that I work for KP, I can truly attest that they really do make patient satisfaction their number one priority, and they are continuously trying to improve their system to stay on top of the game with their ever increasing patient base.
MARYLAND -- Beware...Kaiser is very misleading. Do not apply for an Individual plan online unless you are definitely going to sign up with them. In requesting a quote, they require you to input your credit card information. Do NOT give them your information unless you are 100% certain you want the plan you applied for and agree to the price. They will take money out of your account eventually.
I inquired, requested a quote, in mid-April. Online it states that the 1st month's premium will come out and each month thereafter it would come out the beginning of the month. I was constantly calling to find out if I had been approved and what the cost of the other plans were. The end of May, they deducted payment for coverage for the months of May & June (yet their website stated that the month of June would come out the beginning of that month).
Every time I called membership services, I would speak to someone different. I would keep track of their names and get direct #s. Each time I was told I would be getting a refund in a few days' time. After a few days, I would call back because I had not received a refund. It is now June and I have received a refund, BUT they have now taken another two months coverage out of my account!!! It is very frustrating. Health ins. is not cheap.
I sympathize with all the reviews. They have horrible customer service reps. I had a baby in December and could not leave the hospital until I made my baby an appointment. I had to get the baby registered. It took over two hours on the telephone and they would transfer me from one person to another. Finally, the doctor from the hospital called Kaiser and it was taken care of. I have never seen the same doctor when visiting Kaiser even though I am assigned a primary care physician. The doctors are clueless. I usually tell them what to do. Good luck.
CALIFORNIA -- If you are diagnosed with Sleep Apnea Kaiser only covers the treatment if you are on the $5.00 or $10.00 copay plan. If not you are out of luck. The equipment costs around $1000.00 and I can't afford that. Untreated sleep apnea can: Increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. Increase the risk for or worsen heart failure. Make irregular heartbeats more likely. Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents. Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical condition. It is unbelievable to me that treatment isn't covered under all Kaiser health plans.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- Kaiser Permanete is a bad health care system. In a nutshell, the doctors are rude and the services are just a big joke. I am amazed that no one has filed a lawsuit against them yet. They don't care about their patients. All they see is how fast they can get you out of their facility! The doctors (ER) don't really care. They just try to get you out as fast as they. I guess the bottom line is that, they try to save some $$$. So, it seems the system is not really a proper, functioning system - should we say....
Anyway I am just saddest to see that we are a big nation like USA should have the greatest health care in the world - but it turned out that other country like Canada, Switzerland, have the best health care - hospital service, etc. Kaiser is a big broken system that doesn't seems to work.
FONTANA, CALIFORNIA -- I was put on a medication that made me unable to think, converse, and remember so that I appeared on the wrong day for an appointment and another time couldn't remember it at all even with the reminders for my cardiology appointments. Most of the time I didn't know what day it was or the time of day. When I went to see my GP doctor, he said it wasn't the medications and wanted to refer me to mental health care for depression. The cardiologist wouldn't give me another appointment even though I was on aspirin, atenolol, nitroglycerin, plavix, diltiazem, and the culprit flexeril.
I read in an article that flexeril built up in the system of the elderly and caused side effects and quit taking it. Then it took a while but I finally was able to think clearly again. Now my cardiologist says I'm stable and with the meds and he doesn't need to see me again unless I have a problem. If so, I can always call and make an appointment. Last two times I had chest pains I went to the emergency room - no time to wait for an appointment.
I'm not having chest pains and medications are keeping me stable.
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA -- Called appointment line at 7 am on 4/10/07 for Kaiser Riverside. Informed that I was assigned a personal physician and since he was in the clinic that day I could not get an appt confirmed until the appt center talked to the personal physician. Appt center returned my call about 9:30 am and informed me that my personal physician would call and attempt to treat my symptoms over the phone for symptoms that appeared to be pneumonia. Could no longer get a same day appt and would need to wait until late the following day to get in. Called back asked for supervisor, refused to accept no appt. Went to urgent care with 103 degree temp and severe breathing difficulty. Waited 4 hours to see physician and was treated for early stage pneumonia. Informed by NON-personal physician that if I had waited until the next day that I would have likely required hospitalization.
Been with Kaiser for 26 years but this will be the last year. Penalized for choosing personal physician. Service sucks. They'll let you just die rather than give you an appointment for a serious condition. GOOD BYE. I'd rather switch than fight this mega health system that stinks!
Kaiser Permanente is the nation's largest HMO and cares more about its bottom line than serving its patients. It's next to impossible to get an appointment, if you do.. the doctors throw a prescription at you without giving you a thorough examination. My friend went to them over and over again with stomach pains and they just kept giving him painkillers. One day, he started puking up blood -- turns out he had four bleeding stomach ulcers which could have killed him. The painkillers made it worse. Kaiser docs just push the drugs that they get for free from the pharmaceutical companies. No one should have to wait weeks for an appt. You should not get a voicemail when you call their emergency line. I can't believe they are still around...
I urge everyone to write to Oprah and share their story -- if there is enough, she will do a show on this issue and expose Kaiser for the greedy and heartless company that it is.
LAFAYETTE, COLORADO -- Kaiser is great in many areas. My 1 star rating is for their weight management and customer service group. They are not equipped with fluoroscopes to do lap band fills so they have to guess. If you get sick and come back the next day because they put too much in, they charge you again. Today, they did nothing but tell my wife to go to their downtown office where they have more equipment than Rock Creek and charged $50 dollars.
The doctor and customer service both agree there should not be a charge because they did not do anything, but neither knew how to fix it without a formal 30 day complaint. This is very poor care and bad process when no one can make a simple charge correction and force me to have spend 1+ hour on the phone explaining the same thing to multiple people. Go somewhere else for lap band care - even without insurance the fee for a fill is less with better care.