Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals is reorganizing its operations outside California to become more responsive to local markets and growth opportunities.
It's the latest of recent moves by the Oakland, Calif.-based giant to become more flexible and expand its product line and market share.
Kaiser, which was previously structured into 11 regions, has established six divisions composed of 18 local markets led by division presidents.
Its recently reorganized Northern and Southern California regions are unaffected. Hawaii will be considered a local market rather than a division.
The change will make it easier for Kaiser to take advantage of acquisition opportunities, said Dan Danzig, a Kaiser spokesman.
"The division leaders will be in a position to support the local markets' business planning and growth targets," he said. "You want a management structure designed to help the organization thrive rather than get in its way."
The move also is an attempt to "get rid of some of the operational duplication and better leverage our purchasing power," Danzig said.
The change is one element in Kaiser's recent growth strategy, he said. "We've been developing new products and been very flexible in pricing and product development with national employers, and we've had tremendous growth this year," he added.
After a stagnant period, Kaiser added more than 300,000 enrollees this year, compared with about 100,000 last year and "a few thousand" the year before, he said. The HMO now has an enrollment of 7.4 million.
Kaiser recently acquired Community Health Plan in Albany, N.Y., and plans to acquire a Humana HMO in the Washington, D.C., area and a PPO in Missouri.