Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. AHP accepts no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided unless that information is subsequently confirmed in writing.

A former colleague came across an article I wrote last year, ‘My Recent Experience with Kaiser Health System’ – Axene Health Partners, LLC.  After reading the article, she reached out to ask my thoughts about Kaiser’s recent acquisition of Geisinger Health System.

In a nutshell, the prior article tells a story of how grateful I am to have Kaiser as a health insurance option where I reside in Southern California, and that it’s unfortunate Kaiser is not an option in most locations outside of California.  Outside of California, Kaiser only has a presence in a handful of States’ but their footprint in those areas is small to moderate (see the below chart).  About 75% of Kaiser’s 12.7m members are located in Northern or Southern California.  California is the only region where Kaiser has a robust statewide network with 36 hospitals, over 400 medical officers, over 17,000 physicians, and over 165,000 employees.  As long as I am traveling within California’s borders, I have a high degree of confidence there are Kaiser providers nearby in case I have a healthcare emergency.  For travel outside of California though, I would be at the mercy of out-of-network expenses in the event of a medical emergency.

However, that may change at some point in the future due to some recent news.  Kaiser recently formed a new non-profit organization named Risant Health with a vision to expand the adoption of value-based care.  This is to be accomplished by acquiring and connecting a portfolio of like-minded, nonprofit, value-oriented community-based health systems anchored in their respective communities.

Then in April, Kaiser announced they are acquiring Geisinger which will be the first health system to join Risant Health.  Geisinger is a hospital system with their own HMO health plan that services about a dozen counties in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.  Growing up in Northeast Pennsylvania, I am very familiar with Geisinger and even had Geisinger insurance as a child.  Like my opinion of Kaiser, I have also had wonderful experiences with Geisinger Health System.  However, also like traveling outside of California with Kaiser insurance, traveling outside of Geisinger’s limited service area can leave one feeling exposed to out-of-network healthcare expenses in the event of a medical emergency.

Kaiser recently formed a new non-profit organization named Risant Health with a vision to expand the adoption of value-based care.

I think it is great news that Kaiser chose Geisinger as the first health system to join Risant Health.  Knowing that Kaiser plans to add more like-minded health systems to Risant Health gives me comfort that Kaiser is trying to expand their brand of healthcare delivery through acquisition to areas of the country it has been unable to accomplish organically.  I cannot estimate how long it will take, but hopefully, Kaiser will eventually acquire a large enough footprint of like-minded health systems to effectively act as a national network that will give Kaiser (and Risant) members the assurance of in-network facilities when traveling outside of their normal service area.  I am excited to hear more news about additional health systems joining Risant Health over the next several years.

About the Author

William BednarConsulting Actuary
William Bednar, FSA, FCA, MAAA is a Principal and Consulting Actuary with Axene Health Partners, LLC