Our impact in Washington

Our impact in Washington

Kaiser Permanente is committed to the health and well-being of 595,983 members in Washington. Our skilled teams include 1,071 physicians and 1,535 nurses, supported by a comprehensive clinical and nonclinical staff. Across 36 medical offices, we serve diverse regions of Washington state — including Puget Sound; Northwest, Central, and Eastern Washington; and the Coastal and Olympic areas.

At Kaiser Permanente, we are deeply connected to organized labor, with more than 62% of our health care professionals represented by a union.

We value our relationships with the Service Employees International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and the Office and Professional Employees International Union. Each union plays an important role in our efforts to attract the best talent and provide high-quality, affordable care.

Key issues

Market structure

Most Americans receive health care coverage through their employer. Employers generally choose between 2 methods of funding when they sponsor a health plan on behalf of their workforce: self-funded or fully insured.

Self-funded plans are an agreement in which the employer (or labor trust) directly takes on the financial risk of paying for its employees’ medical claims as they occur. With fully insured health plans, the employer purchases an insurance product through an insurance carrier or health plan, such as Kaiser Permanente, and the insurer or plan takes on the risk for the cost of covered care.

  Self-funded Fully insured
Payments The employer does not pay premiums; instead, it pays fixed costs (administrative fees and stop-loss premiums) and variable costs (employee health care claims). The employer pays monthly premiums to an insurance carrier or coverage provider.
Assumption of risk The employer assumes the risk. The health plan or insurance company assumes the risk.
Compliance payments The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 generally preempts state regulations and taxation.  The plan must comply with state regulations and taxation. 
Regulatory authority The federal government regulates.  The state and federal governments regulate.

Self-funded plans are generally not subject to state regulations and requirements. As the largest provider of fully insured plans in Washington state, Kaiser Permanente has a much higher proportion of plans subject to state regulatory authority and state taxes and fees compared to other carriers in the state.

Health coverage in Washington by plan type

Note: The percentages are according to 2017 data from the state of Washington’s Office of Financial Management Forecasting and Research Division.

Coverage Percentage
Self-funded (private market), under state taxing authority 33
Fully insured — Health insurer pays employer group's health care claims (private market) 23
Medicaid, under state taxing authority 23
Medicare 15
Uninsured 6

Our impact

Our care

In 2023, the Washington Health Alliance Community Checkup ranked Kaiser Permanente highest in the state for overall quality of care and value. It’s the 16th year in a row we’ve been one of the top-ranked organizations in the report.

Since 2010, our Medicare health plan in Washington has earned high annual ratings from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Strengthening Washington together

Join us in shaping a healthier future for Washington. At Kaiser Permanente, our dedicated care, comprehensive services, and community partnerships are designed to empower our members and strengthen communities. Together, we can achieve lasting health and wellness across the state.