Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, serving more than 8.8 million members, with headquarters in Oakland, Calif. It comprises:
- Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
- Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and their subsidiaries
- The Permanente Medical Groups.
At Kaiser Permanente, physicians are responsible for medical decisions. The Permanente Medical Groups, which provide care for Kaiser Permanente members, continuously develop and refine medical practices to help ensure that care is delivered in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
Kaiser Permanente’s creation resulted from the challenge of providing Americans medical care during the Great Depression and World War II, when most people could not afford to go to a doctor. Among the innovations it has brought to U.S. health care are:
- prepaid health plans, which spread the cost to make it more affordable
- physician group practice to maximize their abilities to care for patients
- a focus on preventing illness as much as on caring for the sick
- an organized delivery system, putting as many services as possible under one roof
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