After being a satisfied Kaiser Permanente patient for my entire adult life, my insurance is now changing.

This is a scary and daunting position to be in for any patient, but especially for a person as medically complex and expensive as myself. Now I have to figure out the world of the preferred provider organization (PPO) system of managed health care.

Kaiser is a closed health maintenance organization (HMO)–they are at once the payor (insurance company) and provider of health care. The entire system is networked with one electronic medical record (EMR) in which all of my providers can see my entire health history, including doctor’s notes.

You can imagine how awesome and helpful this is for a person living with a serious or chronic condition. At Kaiser, there is no need for me to ask doctors to print out or copy my medical record and drag it from one provider to another.

Ever since my brain cancer diagnosis in 2008 I have been singing the praises of Kaiser. From my first seizure, to the brain scan I had just a few weeks ago, Kaiser has made it easy to have cancer! Referrals are just an email away and I have never been denied coverage of a visit, procedure or medication.

December 2016: Last MRI at Kaiser
PHOTO: Me outside of Kaiser in December 2016 before my last MRI.

Why the change? 

My husband accepted a new job and the new job does not offer Kaiser as a health insurance option.

For eight years Brett and I have made all of our major life decisions around making sure we get to stay with Kaiser… because of me. But then this new job opportunity came up. When we found out the new job did not have Kaiser we thought long and hard about whether he should accept the offer.

My husband and I are crazy-organized people, and we considered all options. We made a list of the pros and cons about leaving Kaiser, and we consulted our most trusted advisor (Uncle Bob).

After careful consideration and detailed preparation (to be outlined as a “how-to” in a future blog post) Brett and I decided to leave Kaiser for the wild, wild west of a PPO health insurance plan.

And oh yeah, Brett took the new job, too.

Stay tuned.


Have you ever transitioned from one healthcare system to another, or changed insurance? Leave your tips, stories and lessons learned in the comments below.