Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif., one of the nation's largest staff-model HMOs, plans to begin marketing more broadly a PPO option to certain California employers. The move is a departure for the 8 million-member health plan, which has long relied on a closed network of doctors and hospitals, allowing patients to see providers outside the system only under extreme circumstances. In the past, Kaiser has quietly offered PPO coverage on request to a small number of employers that offered only Kaiser's HMO to employees but wanted to give them more flexibility. Kaiser now will more actively promote the PPO option to this employer niche. It has no plans to offer the PPO to individuals or to employers that already offer PPO coverage through other insurers. -- by Laura B. Benko
Kaiser to expand marketing of limited PPO option
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