Since 1945, Kaiser Permanente has been distinctive among health plans for its big-picture view: in addition to providing coverage, the plan also provides care. The Kaiser plan was one of the earliest health co-operatives: instead of charging fee-for-service, it accepted a monthly lump-sum payment from participants. This approach means that preventive care comes very naturally and at equal benefit to the insurer and the insured: Kaiser’s doctors have an incentive to “do less and do it right.” And it makes a difference — in Northern California, Kaiser’s home base, death from heart disease is less than 30 percent amoung the Kaiser population than among patients who receive care from another insurer. No surprise, then, that the company came out on top in Consumer Reports’ recent ranking of more than 830 health plans.
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