Answers to your top questions about the Kaiser Permanente transition

Now that the Kaiser Permanente acquisition of Group Health is complete, you probably have some questions about what this means for you and for your clients. The information below will help you understand what to expect during the transition.

We hope you’re as excited as we are about our future as Kaiser Permanente. We’ll keep you informed as we learn more, and we’ll update our website dedicated to information about the acquisition:

Is Group Health now part of Kaiser Permanente?
Yes. Kaiser Permanente’s acquisition of Group Health Cooperative and its subsidiaries became final on Feb.1, 2017. This means that Group Health is now a part of Kaiser Permanente and the more than 651,000 Group Health members in the state of Washington are now part of Kaiser Permanente’s eighth and newest geographical service region in the United States. With the acquisition, Kaiser Permanente now serves more than 11.3 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia.

What are the next steps in the process?
Now that the acquisition is complete, a name change will be filed with the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. After the name change, we will begin using the Kaiser Permanente brand name in the new Washington market. Beginning in March, as part of the external brand launch in the state of Washington, the Kaiser Permanente name, brand, and logo will appear in medical centers, on employee apparel, on member identification cards, on public websites, and more.

Will Group Health’s name change?
Yes. A name change (from Group Health to Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington) will be filed with the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner and should become official in a few weeks. After the name change, the Kaiser Permanente brand name will be used in the new Washington market.

Will you be communicating news about this to my clients?
Yes. All members will receive a welcome letter from Kaiser Permanente and a new Kaiser Permanente ID card. Information about applicable name changes in the benefit booklets or coverage documents will be issued in a separate communication.

Will Kaiser Permanente invest in the Washington market?
Yes. The acquisition extends Kaiser Permanente’s award-winning model of coordinated care, and includes a commitment to invest $1 billion over the next ten years to expand and modernize facilities and technology and improve both care and service. The combination of its integrated model, comprehensive medical facilities, and interactive technologies will enable Kaiser Permanente to provide its newest members in Washington with personalized care and service on their terms, when and where they want it.

By investing in facilities, technology, equipment, and people, Kaiser Permanente plans to improve affordability, quality, and service for members and the overall health of the community. Kaiser Permanente is committed to members’ health and the overall health of the communities where members live. Kaiser Permanente has committed to invest $800M to support communities throughout Washington over the next decade.

Will plans or benefits change for 2017?
No. Becoming part of Kaiser Permanente does not change the 2017 plan or benefits Group Health members selected during 2016 Open Enrollment.

What impact does the acquisition have on 2017 premium rates?
The acquisition does not affect 2017 premiums, benefits, or cost shares.

Will members still be able to see their doctors in 2017?
Yes. Kaiser Permanente’s Washington members can continue to rely on the doctors and care teams they count on. They will continue to receive care at the same locations and hospitals they did before the acquisition. Kaiser Permanente will retain existing relationships with Group Health hospital partners, such as Swedish, Overlake Medical Center, Seattle Children’s, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital, and CHI Franciscan.

Can existing Group Health members now access care in other Kaiser Permanente regions?
Many Group Health members have long been able to receive care at Kaiser Permanente facilities when traveling outside of the Group Health coverage area, although some services at Kaiser Permanente require pre-authorization.

What happened to proceeds from the transaction?
As part of the acquisition agreement, Kaiser Permanente funded the Group Health Community Foundation with approximately $1.8 billion. A new not-for-profit, this community foundation will focus on improving health for all by listening and responding directly to the needs of Washington’s families and communities. The new Group Health Community Foundation will be independent of Kaiser Permanente; and through it, Group Health’s legacy of caring, innovation, excellence, equity, and inclusion will live on.

Why is Kaiser Permanente expanding into Washington?
Since it was founded 71 years ago, Kaiser Permanente has sought to bring its integrated model of high-quality care and coverage to more people. Growth to new markets is an explicit strategy of Kaiser Permanente and demonstrates the value proposition of our model of providing affordable care and coverage together with the highest possible quality.

America’s health care industry is undergoing significant changes, and that includes creation of new – and consolidation of some existing – health plans and care provider networks. This change in the industry provides Kaiser Permanente with an opportunity to consider growth to new markets, expanding our model of affordable, high quality care and coverage together. Kaiser Permanente has a goal to double membership in Washington over the next decade.

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All plans offered and underwritten by Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington or Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, Inc.