SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Efforts to require healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente to operate under the same financial and rate reporting requirements as other hospitals and insurance companies in California advanced yesterday with the passage of SB 343 by the Assembly Health Committee.
“Kaiser and other health providers and insurers in California should all play by a common set of rules,” said Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), the bill’s author. “With healthcare costs continuing to rise, consumers need access to clear pricing and financial information and employers need information about insurance rates so they can make informed choices about medical care.”
Although Kaiser Permanente is a “non-profit” healthcare system, it has reported $9 billion in profits since January 2017 and sits on $31.5 billion in reserves. Meanwhile, premiums for Kaiser patients have gone up year after year as part of a rate-setting process that keeps employers and consumers in the dark.
SB 343 would require Kaiser Permanente to provide more data justifying increases in health insurance premiums, as is presently required of other health insurance companies. It would also require the company to provide financial information on an individual hospital level, as opposed to its current practice of lumping data for all hospitals into two regions: Northern California and Southern California. Breaking out individual hospitals’ financial information makes it easier for consumers to compare facilities in their area.
With Kaiser controlling one in ten California hospitals and more than 40 percent of insured Californians with group healthcare coverage, this legislation makes it easier for employers to negotiate favorable rates when purchasing health insurance for their workers.
SB 343 is supported by a coalition of healthcare, consumer, business and worker advocates, including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Silicon Valley Employers Forum, the Small Business Majority, Health Access California, the California Labor Federation, SEIU California, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.