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Kaiser seeks 5.3% hike in rates

The increase will affect 150,000 members and 5,000 businesses

By Kristen Consillio

LAST UPDATED: 08:20 a.m. HST, Nov 01, 2012

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii is proposing a 5.3 percent rate increase on Jan. 1 for more than 150,000 members covered by employer-sponsored health plans.

The state's largest health maintenance organization said the rise in premiums — the smallest since 2009 when rates rose 4.9 percent — is driven by escalating medical costs. The increase will affect more than 5,000 businesses.

Earlier this week Kaiser said it will increase premiums next year for its supplemental Medicare coverage.

"We continue to look for greater efficiency, redirecting resources to better meet evolving customer and member needs, and consolidating administrative functions to support standardization and simplification in process," said Kaiser spokes­woman Laura Lott. The company recently laid off 35 employees as part of a reorganization.

At the same time, the HMO is proposing to raise premiums by 9.1 percent for more than 14,000 individuals, according to the state Insurance Division, which regulates health plan rates. Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito said the division is still reviewing the proposed rate adjustments.

"(Health premiums) are eating everybody alive," said Steve Marlette, president of MC Architects, which has six employees, some of whom are covered by Kaiser. "(Rates) are all going up relatively consistently, seems like every year. At the same time, it appears that they're cutting services, too. They keep tweaking the plans so we're paying a little bit more and getting less service."

Lott said the nonprofit organization's rates "need to cover the costs of providing quality health care to our members and customers."

The company reported a $200,000 loss in the second quarter, its most recent earnings report, reversing gains of $2.8 million in the year-earlier period.

Kaiser's financial problems don't stop there.

The organization also is being sued by the Queen's Medical Center for more than $4 million for allegedly underpaying Queen's for care given to Kaiser members.

Kaiser raised rates for most members by 8.8 percent this year, 12.6 percent last year and 10.7 percent in 2010.

"It's just another one of those things that adds up. Everybody passes it on. You have to, so everything gets a little more expensive," Marlette said. "It never seems to go away. We don't have any option here. You suck it up and hope for the best."

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cojef wrote:
Great medical care received by this HMO. While visiting Waikiki this past month had a bad deep coughing spell and checked in to the urgi-care unit at King/Pensacola and received tremendous care. This was on Tuesday and am back in Southern California, thanks to the medical staff yesterday evening. Was in Honolulu for the whole month and felt safe because I am a member of Kaiser Permanante. Thanks to the staff for getting me back home.
on November 1,2012 | 05:36AM
frontman wrote:
obamacare....hope and change....DON"T YOU LOVE IT??????
on November 1,2012 | 06:55AM
soundofreason wrote:
Compare those years of rate increases and show me where that correlates to any inflation index out there.
on November 1,2012 | 07:10AM
hele wrote:
The story didn't mention that Kaiser Permanente is one of the few health care organizations that operates as a non-profit organization, meaning that the company reinvests any profits generated back into providing improved services for members.
on November 1,2012 | 09:31AM
soundofreason wrote:
And how to avoid HAVING to reinvest profits? Spend them via paying huge salaries to the admin.
on November 1,2012 | 07:14PM
localguy wrote:
Many of us remember back in the day HMOs got started. They said they could offer better care for everyone at lower prices than the current process. Fast forward to today and you realize how they all lied to us. Now they have such a massive bureaucracy/overhead they constantly need more money to pay their clueless CEOS and upper management those high salaries and every day bonus. What happened to taking care of the people? Lost in their greed for more profits. Sad to say these organizations have lost their way and will continue to gouge the user until they collapse under their own inefficiency.
on November 1,2012 | 10:01AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
Don't worry Obamacare will take all this trouble away. pufffffffff....cough, cough....life will be rosy.....
on November 1,2012 | 11:26PM
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