September 20, 2017

Our health plans receive highest ratings from NCQA

OAKLAND Calif. When tremors from Parkinson’s disease began to severely limit the life of Richard Williams, 70, he turned to his Kaiser Permanente physicians in Northern California — and they offered a dramatic solution.

“I couldn’t eat soup because it was too hard to control the spoon,” said Williams, a retiree in Sonoma, California, about 40 miles north of San Francisco.  “It was challenging to insert a credit card into the self-service slot at gas stations.”

Kaiser Permanente neurologist Rima Ash, MD, knew Williams was “a perfect candidate” for a surgery called deep brain stimulation, or DBS.

In January, Williams underwent two separate six-hour surgeries in which Kaiser Permanente neurosurgeon Patrick Pezeshkian, MD, implanted wire leads deep within his brain. A generator, much like a pacemaker, implanted below Williams’ clavicle delivers high-frequency stimulation to the leads, thus improving the tremors and restoring his quality of life.

“I can’t say enough about the professionalism and skill of my doctors,” Williams said. “But really I had an amazing support system from everyone at Kaiser Permanente. I could feel their concern, and that everyone was right by my side throughout.”

This level of expert specialty care, compassion and personalized service is a hallmark of Kaiser Permanente. The National Committee for Quality Assurance’s Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2017-18, published today, recognize Kaiser Permanente health plans again this year as among the nation’s top performers for consumer experience, prevention and treatment.

NCQA’s annual report rates more than 1,000 health plans, including Medicare, Medicaid and Private (commercial), on a 0-to-5 scale, with 5 being the best. Only 15 health plans in the country (approximately 1 percent) were given a 5 out 5 this year, and Kaiser Permanente has six of them, more than any other organization. All Kaiser Permanente health plans were rated 4.0 or higher for overall care.

In addition, for the second year in a row, Kaiser Permanente is only health care organization in the country to have a health plan — Kaiser Permanente Northern California — rate 5.0 for both its Medicare and commercial populations. And for the sixth year in a row, all Kaiser Permanente Medicare health plans have been ranked or rated highest (or tied for the highest) in the areas they serve. Kaiser Permanente serves more than 11.8 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia.

High fives for Northern California

Out of more than 1,000 plans rated in the NCQA Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2017-18, Kaiser Permanente Northern California is — for the second year in a row — the only health care entity in the nation to receive a 5.0, the highest score possible, for both its Medicare and commercial (Private) populations.

In addition, there were only 15 “5 out 5” ratings total in the annual report and Kaiser Permanente has six of them. Along with Northern California, Kaiser Permanente Medicare plans in Southern California, Washington, the Northwest and Hawaii each received a 5.0 rating. All Kaiser Permanente plans rated 4.0 or higher.

“The NCQA ratings once again highlight Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to providing affordable, high-quality health care coverage to our members and giving our patients the outcomes they expect and deserve,” said  Patrick Courneya, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals. “Since we began as a health care organization more than 70 years ago, our excellence has been rooted in our clinical experience and evidence-based medicine approach. We know that prevention, early intervention and accessibility help our nearly 12 million members — like Mr. Williams — get well sooner and get back to doing what they love most.”

“Our year-over-year outstanding NCQA results shine a light on our highly skilled physicians, nurses, clinicians, front-line staff and care teams who are dedicated to doing what’s best for the member,” said  Michael Kanter, MD, executive vice president and chief Quality officer for The Permanente Federation, the national organization for the more than 21,000 physicians who exclusively provide care to Kaiser Permanente’s members.

The NCQA’s Health Insurance Plan Ratings are based on combined scores for health plans in the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set®, commonly called HEDIS; the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems®, or CAHPS; and NCQA Accreditation standards scores.

The ratings and methodology are posted on the  NCQA’s website as well as on

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 11.8 million members in eight 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.