Kaiser Permanente

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Why Isn’t Kaiser Less Expensive?

(tedeytan: Flickr)

(tedeytan: Flickr)

The federal health law aims to tackle the problem of high health care costs by providing financial rewards to providers who do a better job coordinating patient care. But one shining example of that future has been here in California for decades. It’s Kaiser Permanente which is often touted as the nation’s best hope for bringing health care costs more in line with other developed nations.

Kaiser rose out of a utopian, industrialist dream. During the 1930s and 40s, Henry J. Kaiser wanted to make sure the workers at his Richmond shipyard were steady and strong.

George Halvorson, Kaiser’s CEO, draws a direct link between Henry Kaiser’s approach to building ships and his approach to designing a health system. “When Henry built things he tended to assemble an entire team to build all the parts,” he says. “So when he started providing health care to his workers, he used that model which was to have a Kaiser hospital, Kaiser clinics.”

“They got to where they are, in part, by being the cost leader in the market. And they no longer are.”
Kaiser Permanente opened its doors to the public in 1945 — and offered health coverage that was considerably less expensive than conventional insurers like Blue Cross.

The strategy worked because it owned and operated its own hospitals and clinics and directly employed physicians. Continue reading

Hospital, Heal Thy High-Carbon Self

This post originally appeared on the KQED blog Climate Watch.

By Kamal Menghrajani

Solar panels on the roof of Kaiser's hospital in Modesto will help the Oakland-based health care system reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo: Kaiser Permanente)

All across California, people are looking for ways to be more eco-friendly: composting, recycling, driving less, and turning out the lights. Now it looks like hospitals in the area are following suit, as Kaiser Permanente announced new ‘green’ initiatives this week.

The Oakland-based health care provider is installing fuel cells and solar panels at its hospitals and clinics throughout the state. The huge non-profit is also turning to green building techniques for new construction projects and to save energy where possible in existing facilities.

The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, or a total of 264,000 metric tons, by the year 2020. Continue reading