Friday, September 26, 2008

One more on Kaiser Permanente

Just had to call someone in the corporate offices of Kaiser Permanente for work. The lady wasn't in and her voicemail was like "Hi, you've reached Linda in the department of...on the other line...will get back to you by the end of the day..." and ended with "Have a nice day. Thrive."

I don't know. I thought it was cute. It makes me want to start working "thrive" into my casual communications.




ogre said...


(and ruffles, too)

Stephanie said...

I know too much about the inside workings of Kaiser from one of their marketing folks....


Joel Monka said...

You just think it's cool to say "thrive" because you flirt with a guy who says "Live long and prosper."

Comrade Kevin said...

Unless of course, you're an axe murderer.

Chalicechick said...

I know, Ms. Theologian.

At the same time, what insurance companies do is sort of inherently evil. There's pretty much no non-evil way of doing what they do at a cost that will let them stay in business.

And Kaiser doesn't seem to go out of its way to screw people as far as I can tell, which makes them better than some insurance companies I've had.


ogre said...

So, that's a lighter, perkier shade of evil, CC? Only doing what it takes for evil to get along, and not really wholly evil?

(Why am I expecting an entirely sympathetic Monty Python sketch? You know, as evil goes, they're really quite good...)

PG said...

I don't find Kaiser evil. All of economic life involves rationing. You can have rationing done on the individual's immediate ability to pay per service (no insurance at all); done on the basis of the insurance company's decisions (HMOs); or done on the basis of the government's decisions (national health system). People who believe that there are unlimited dollars to fund health care live in a fantasy land.

We can do radically more for people today with health care than we could sixty years ago. However, we can't spend a proportionately radical amount of more money than we did then. It contributes nothing to the discussion to bewail the fact that rationing occurs in one form or another.

Chalicechick said...

Ok, evil's probably not the word. Can we go with awful?

Any company that has as its primary function compensating people for the incompensable and fixing the broken as cheaply as possible is going to seem fairly awful most of the time.

In the end, if you lose a finger in an industrial accident, it's not the insurance company's fault pretty much ever. It's their responsibility, though, if they are insuring your boss and your life is going to be painful and suck and however much they pay you for a lost finger won't be enough and you will probably end up hating them no matter what.

Any company that gives truly ideal care will be so expensive, employers won't use them anyway because they won't be able to afford it.

My feeling was always that, paperwork gluts aside, Kaiser did its best. They seemed to take a "if we get you to take care of yourself and do good prevantative care, that means you're sick less often and catch problems earlier and we have to spend less money and thus it benefits both of us" sort of approach and offered tons of things like cheap nutrition classes and discounts on weight watchers memberships and support groups and vitamins and such.

It always made a lot of sense to me, and the Kaiser model seems like a reasonable goal for socialized medicine to me.


fausto said...

Of course they want you to thrive. If you're chronically sick they have to pay for it.

ogre said...

Seems to me that France and Denmark (esp. Denmark) -- yeah, not for profit companies, but still -- do a better* job than we do, for less money per capita, covering everyone.

* As defined by the average level of satisfaction with the care given. And as I recall, that didn't even throw the 15+% of Americans who aren't covered at all into the satisfaction numbers.

As an objective measure of a successful health care system, public satisfaction with it really does seem like the foremost metric that comes to mind.

(CC, I tend to agree--though we've never been covered by Kaiser, from what I've heard, they rise to a better level of not bad compared to a poke in the eye with a sharp stick)

Gentileschi said...

So far our (short) experience with KP is that a little persistence works.
Let us know whether your efforts thrived or floundered!

Lisa M. Orange said...

"Thrive" is Kaiser Permanente's marketing slogan. It's on all their ads, print and radio. She might be required to have that on her voice mail. Still, it's a pleasant salutation.

PG said...

As an objective measure of a successful health care system, public satisfaction with it really does seem like the foremost metric that comes to mind.

Depends on what your public expects. If your public doesn't expect access to advanced and experimental treatment, for example, they won't get pissy when their government-run health care doesn't provide it. (Canada) Or even non-advanced but expensive care, like kidney machines, that is not given to those over 70, because there is a social ethic that after a certain age you only get primary and palliative care. (Japan) Americans are ideologically invested in a market system and want Cadillac care at Yugo prices, to use a bioethics cliche.

Incidentally, the Japanese have amazing longevity given how much they smoke. There were guys smoking during breaks of climbing Mt. Fuji, which is a hard core commitment to nicotine. I would not have been doing anything at that altitude to reduce my lung capacity.

For objective measures we'd want metrics that aren't biased by cultural differences. I'd pick infant mortality (which does a lot to measure the quality of prenatal care), death by diseases that can be avoided through vaccine or cured with antibiotics; longevity; and mobility of people in the last five years of their life (measured by how well they can walk, etc.). Obviously this may pick up some things that aren't directly part of health care (if old Japanese ladies have impaired mobility, it might be due to a shortage of calcium in the diet, which in turn might be linked to a shortage of dairy and to a genetic tendency to lactose intolerance), but I think measures of "health care" probably should reach diet because it has such a profound effect on health. There's only so much that Lipitor and stents can do for the obese. (I use "obese" in the proper medical sense of fat percentage in the body, not in the silly BMI sense. I now put that disclaimer anytime I use the word online lest I incur the wrath of a Fat Advocate.)

Anonymous said...

"Thrive" sounds like what Sarah Palin is going to name her next kid.