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What is Kaiser Permanente?

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Quick Answer

Kaiser Permanente is a nonprofit health organization offering services to more than 8.8 million members, explains Health Care IT News. As of 2015, Kaiser Permanente consists of the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and their subsidiaries, the Permanente Medical Groups, and the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. The organization has its headquarters in Oakland, California.

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Full Answer

Kaiser Permanente evolved from the 12-bed Contractors General Hospital built by Dr. Sidney Garfield near Desert Center, California, located in the Mojave Desert, explains the organization's website. The hospital focused on treating indisposed workers from the Colorado River Aqueduct project. With the help of Harold Hatch, an engineer who was also an insurance salesman, Dr. Garfield introduced a health insurance prepayment system that eventually provided coverage for thousands of workers.

During World War II, Henry J. Kaiser recruited Dr. Garfield, who used his innovative idea to provide prepaid medical coverage for the thousands of shipyard, steel mill and construction employees working in Kaiser's industrial firms in the 1930s and 1940s, explains Kaiser Permanente. After the end of the World War II, the program evolved into the Permanente Health Plan, which initiated public enrolment on Oct. 1, 1945. With the help of the Retail Clerks Union, the Warehousemen's Union and the International Longshoremen Union, the plan's membership grew to more than 300,000 people by 1955. The company renamed the health plan Kaiser Permanente in 1952.

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