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Anyone use Kaiser in Retirement?
Old 10-30-2014, 08:21 AM   #1
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Anyone use Kaiser in Retirement?

Looking for any experience with Kaiser as a retiree. We currently get Kaiser through Megacorp, but with retirement due in a year or so, I'd like to keep it privately until we get medicare age and beyond.

Looking for cost to do Kaiser with/through medicare. If it is too much, I'll have to look at other options. Cost to carry over the 3 to 4 years till we get Medicare age are about $1K per month, which we could think about if we can afford to keep it after 65, but if we will have to switch anyway, we may as well jump when I retire.

Thanks for any insight
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Old 10-30-2014, 08:28 AM   #2
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I currently have Kaiser Permanente via COBRA from megacorp. I plan to sign up for Kaiser through CoveredCA for next year. You can also get quotes directly through the kponline.org site. They have a variety of plans - from low copay no deductible, to HSA qualified high deductible plans.

The California medicare supplement for plan for Kaiser is called "Senior Advantage". My parents, my step mom, my sister's MIL, etc all have it. It is a low copay, no deductible plan - except the stupid donut for prescriptions. (My dad was PISSED when that happened because his drug benefit degraded with this donut when Medicare plan D was legislated.)
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Old 10-30-2014, 08:29 AM   #3
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I wanted to add - prices vary by geography. Kaiser Permanente is much more expensive in the Bay Area than it is in Southern CA. My former coworkers in GA used to pay a bit more than So.Cal... but not much.
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Old 10-30-2014, 08:32 AM   #4
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Thanks - I'll try again to get a quote for medicate supplement online. Tried it a while back but had problems with the site at the time.
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Old 10-30-2014, 08:42 AM   #5
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Thanks - I'll try again to get a quote for medicate supplement online. Tried it a while back but had problems with the site at the time.
I had to go through the medicare side of things when I was trying to get quotes for my FIL. He was moving out here, directly from a nursing home, after a fall that landed him in a wheel chair with stroke like brain damage following his hip surgery. We were moving them into our home, to help with caregiving.

At the time - I couldn't get the medicare quote for sr. advantage online, it was only available by phone. At the time the two biggest local providers of HMO supplements for medicare were Kaiser's Senior Advantage and another one called Secure Horizons. As I recall - I had to phone, answer a bunch of questions about kidney health, etc.
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Old 10-30-2014, 11:38 AM   #6
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I'm planning to stay with Kaiser after retirement. Their plans seem to be more or less in line with other providers (BC, Anthem etc) and both my wife and I have been with them for a while so we know our doctors etc. I will call them to discuss options directly when we are close to having to switch because the current plan from my company is a very low copay/ded one and I don't plan to spend that much per month when I retire
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Old 10-30-2014, 11:45 AM   #7
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I am using Kaiser as a Medicare supplement mostly because it comes with built in doctors. No trying to find a doctor that takes Medicare.
There never seems to be a co-pay due when I go in-don't understand that. Blood work is more expensive then when I went directly through the lab but still <$40/ or so.My premium is ridiculously low-$15 a month-that doesn't even cover the admin cost of billing me.
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:14 PM   #8
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We started with Kaiser this year with an exchange policy. I am mightily impressed. If they do not jam pricing through the roof, I will be sticking with them for the foreseeable future.
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:15 PM   #9
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We currently use two forms of Kaiser in our household. My spouse and I have individual policies with Kaiser, my sister-in-law has them via Medicare. We purchased our policies directly from Kaiser, since we don't qualify for any ACA subsidies.

With regard to Medicare, my sister-in-law pays just $20 a month. By comparison, we pay close to $1,000 combined.

Can't tell you how much we are looking forward to reaching Medicare age!
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:16 PM   #10
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My first billing under the Oregon KP Medicare Advantage is this month - a grand $39. Medicare will also pull $140 or so, plus ~ $13 for the drug portion from my piddly SS check, so I'll be hammered with about $200/month plus copays for health care. An outrageous amount for health care! (last month I paid $633 to KP for health care premium - this over 65 stuff has a few things to recommend it....).
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:22 PM   #11
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We are using Kaiser NW Medicare Advantage +. Previously we had used OPM's GEHA insurance. GEHA was great but as lemming alluded above when Medicare is primary many PCPs won't accept a new patient. What was a decider for us is that Kaiser has its own dental group in NW and provides a generous budget for dental care. My husband would complain at length about our former dentist thinking that his bills were paying for remodel of the clinic. Now that we have Advantage + he follows the dentist's recommendations without complaint.

We had Fed. Kaiser for many years but when we moved to Bainbridge Island, WA changed to GEHA. Now that we are back in Portland and heard rave reviews of Kaiser's Medicare Advantage + from neighbors I thought, why not.. Made the switch in April of this year and have been happy with our care.

The reason why Kaiser in the Bay Area is so expensive is that they must pay the physicians enough to offset the cost of housing.

Conversations I have had with Kaiser NW HR is that physicians really want to work for them. When they are on duty they work hard but they aren't subject to crazy on-call demands and can have a life.
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:32 PM   #12
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We are using Kaiser NW Medicare Advantage +. Previously we had used OPM's GEHA insurance. GEHA was great but as lemming alluded above when Medicare is primary many PCPs won't accept a new patient. What was a decider for us is that Kaiser has its own dental group in NW and provides a generous budget for dental care. My husband would complain at length about our former dentist thinking that his bills were paying for remodel of the clinic. Now that we have Advantage + he follows the dentist's recommendations without complaint.

We had Fed. Kaiser for many years but when we moved to Bainbridge Island, WA changed to GEHA. Now that we are back in Portland and heard rave reviews of Kaiser's Medicare Advantage + from neighbors I thought, why not.. Made the switch in April of this year and have been happy with our care.

Brat, I considered the Advantage + for the vision and dental coverage - AIR they don't cover dental implants but do cover bridges - and do I recall $1500 toward hearing aids? May shift to the + with the new year, I believe that since KP is in the top tier of plans one can make one plan change/year. OTOH, I may be full of it - an awful amount of information was getting pushed through the brain pan regarding plans the last few months.
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:48 PM   #13
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I wasn't impressed with vision coverage for glasses (which wasn't covered by GEHA either) because I could go to a Pacific University eye clinic for exams and then either Kaiser's or Costco's glasses shops.

Kaiser has a specialty dental clinic in Portland for bridges and the like. Haven't needed to check that out, thank heavens. I did have an implant when we lived in Kitsap County which wasn't covered by my health insurance then. I did have a root canal through an old crown a few months ago. They referred me to a specialist near the Lloyd Center and received excellent care.

Keep in mind the fact that you can only sign up for the dental coverage at your first enrollment. They don't want folks to cherry-pick coverage.

I keep telling my husband to buy new hearing aids but they still work very well and he isn't ready to deal with change. Dang, getting old is a lot of work.
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:48 PM   #14
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Just want to thank everyone for the comments and the time. I'll try to keep KP after I retire as individual policies and then KP advantage+ or what the name is in VA once we get to Medicare ages.

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Old 10-30-2014, 12:58 PM   #15
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DH's company is pushing most of us from a PPO into Kaiser HMO. My concern when he retires next year and I remain with Kaiser HMO is travel. How do folks handle domestic and foreign travel medical coverage with an HMO? Do you purchase separate travel insurance?

When DH retires, he will be eligible for Medicare and our plan is to purchase supplemental plan F which covers his foreign travel, however, I'm the problem until I turn 65. I had a medical issue overseas earlier this year but fortunately, it wasn't severe enough to require immediate attention and I was able to wait until our return for surgery.

Any insight into the best way to handle medical emergencies while traveling is greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:15 PM   #16
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DH's company is pushing most of us from a PPO into Kaiser HMO. My concern when he retires next year and I remain with Kaiser HMO is travel. How do folks handle domestic and foreign travel medical coverage with an HMO? Do you purchase separate travel insurance?

When DH retires, he will be eligible for Medicare and our plan is to purchase supplemental plan F which covers his foreign travel, however, I'm the problem until I turn 65. I had a medical issue overseas earlier this year but fortunately, it wasn't severe enough to require immediate attention and I was able to wait until our return for surgery.

Any insight into the best way to handle medical emergencies while traveling is greatly appreciated.
I've had to use out of network hospital/urgent care use while under Kaiser.

1st time. I was in Vegas for a very good friend's bachelorette. I was staying very sober since I was 4 months pregnant. (Basically, I was keeping the other women out of trouble.) I started feeling symptoms of a UTI so upped my cranberry juice consumption... It got worse. I was unable to pee at all - Called Kaiser and they sent me to Sunrise hospital ER - which is who they have a contract with. 1 catheter later - I felt much better. Kaiser paid them directly, but the hospital mailed me a copy of the bill. Something like $6k. I paid nothing except filling the prescription when I got back to San Diego and Kaiser.

2nd time - toddler age son spiked a fever and was tugging at ear while we were on a long weekend in Palm Springs. Called Kaiser, they referred us to a specific urgent care clinic that they had a contract with. I paid my $20 copay to the urgent clinic, who'd been pre-warned I was coming.

3rd time - other son starts wheezing really bad in the middle of the night while on vacation in Santa Barbara - I was worried it was an asthma attack or something serious like that. Called and they said to call an ambulance to go to the local hospital. Turned out to be whooping cough. (I hadn't realized you could get it more than once - this was his second case.) I was billed the ER copay ($100) from Kaiser.

We also had a few incidents in Italy - but they were minor. One we went to the town's clinic. It was free. The second we went to the local pharmacist - he sold us prescription antibiotic cream. (I'd gashed my knee up and it was getting ugly.) Socialized medicine covered us there.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:24 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by TrvlBug View Post
DH's company is pushing most of us from a PPO into Kaiser HMO. My concern when he retires next year and I remain with Kaiser HMO is travel. How do folks handle domestic and foreign travel medical coverage with an HMO? Do you purchase separate travel insurance?

When DH retires, he will be eligible for Medicare and our plan is to purchase supplemental plan F which covers his foreign travel, however, I'm the problem until I turn 65. I had a medical issue overseas earlier this year but fortunately, it wasn't severe enough to require immediate attention and I was able to wait until our return for surgery.

Any insight into the best way to handle medical emergencies while traveling is greatly appreciated.
DW was visiting family in Mississippi couple years ago. She had some stomach ache and finally went to hospital. She called KP to let them know what was going on, but they don't have any facilities in Miss. Dr sent her for emergency appendix thing including overnight stay. Hospital billed Kaiser, but I got a copy of the bill saying there was another $1,200 due after what KP had paid. I took it to local KP and while I was there the admin guy called Miss and told them he would pay the remaining $1200. Never heard from hospital again. That worked for us.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:39 PM   #18
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I've been with Kaiser for about 12 years. I started with my employer, switched to an individual policy when I left the workforce, and then enrolled through CoveredCA when that became available. I plan on going with the Senior advantage program when I hit 65 and have Medicare.

I like having everything under one roof and my Physician is younger than I am, so I hope she continues to work for a long time.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:43 PM   #19
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If you have teens who travel without you make sure they keep their Kaiser card in their wallet and mark the # to call if they have need for medical attention. Both of my kids went to college in the Bay Area, no issues there. When DS was on cruse with his school they had medical insurance to cover the students.

Basically if you need hospitalization outside of a Kaiser service area you stay there until stable and then they transfer you to one of their facilities in your area. Years ago (and I mean YEARS AGO) Kaiser would transfer a patient with a special medical need to one of their specialist facilities in another city [a child broke her neck and was on a ventilator before pediatric intensive care facilities were common]. I don't think that happens much today as those services are available locally.

When we traveled to India I purchased medical evacuation insurance which automatically includes some medical insurance. Medicare is US healthcare only so it makes no sense to worry about insurer whack-a-mole for a trip of a couple months.
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Old 10-30-2014, 03:59 PM   #20
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I used Kaiser for a couple of years in Nor Cal and for the last almost 15 years since retiring in Hawaii. In general I've been quite satisfied with them.

A couple of caveats.
1. Kaiser isn't McDonalds customers satisfaction varies widely. Consumer reports along with other web source have a pretty good reviews of different regions. Fortunately for me Nor Cal and Hawaii were among the top rated Kaisers.
2. The general knock about Kaiser is that they are great until you get really sick. At which point they can be slow to act, but then they are good once its clear what's wrong with you.
Of the 5 folks I know that have had cancer with Kaiser the good news is 4 of them are still alive (one switched to blue cross between his first and second cancer). However, certainly in a couple of case getting to see the right specialist quickly was challenging.
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