SEATTLE — Following the rapid adoption of, and increasing demand for, virtual care across Washington state, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington announced its newest health care plan, Virtual Plus. The new plan will be available starting January 1, 2021, direct to consumers and employer groups, and on the health insurance exchange pending Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board approval on September 16.
Building on demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and on changing consumer preferences for more convenient care options, Kaiser Permanente is launching Virtual Plus as a virtual-forward way for Kaiser Permanente members to get the care they need, when they need it, and at a predictable cost. Whether members want to reach out when appropriate and available via phone, online chat, video, or email for nonurgent issues, Virtual Plus allows flexibility and convenience for the care members are seeking.
“Virtual care is the health care of today and tomorrow,” said Paul Minardi, MD, president and executive medical director of Washington Permanente Medical Group. “The pandemic has reinforced the need to provide care in the most convenient, accessible, and safe way for our members, and that’s what Virtual Plus does.”
Beginning in March, Kaiser Permanente led Washington as one of the first health care organizations to deliver the majority of care virtually, through options including e-visits, its Consulting Nurse Service, Care Chat online messaging, and video and phone visits. Roughly 65% of Kaiser Permanente appointments are now conducted virtually, compared with about 20% prior to the pandemic.
Virtual Plus leads with virtual-first care options. Members will be seen by the same doctors and clinicians as they would at any KP facility, and their member and patient data is connected to them though their electronic health records. The plan offers convenient ways to get in touch with members’ physicians to get the care they need with Kaiser Permanente’s most affordable plans, while also giving members the flexibility to start with a virtual appointment and, as needed, to come in-person for follow-ups. Members also have access to Kaiser Permanente pharmacists through an online or video visit, and can get medications delivered, usually in one to 2 days.
Joseph Smith, vice president of sales and business development, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington, said, “ With this new plan, we are innovating to give our members more convenient care options at a more affordable cost, respecting their choices and preferences. We are excited to offer another care option to our members that continues our commitment of providing high-quality, convenient, and affordable health care.”
For 75 years, Kaiser Permanente, which includes Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington, has been committed to shaping the future of health and health care — and helping our members, patients, and communities experience more healthy years. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Since July 21, 1945, Kaiser Permanente’s mission has been to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.