LMP Focus Areas

KP and Union Growth

How Partnership Helped KP Reach the 10 Million Member Milestone

Union leaders and trained union ambassadors.

Union leaders and trained union ambassadors, a few of whom are pictured here, have worked with Kaiser Permanente sales and marketing teams to grow health plan membership.

Union leaders, unit-based teams and frontline workers help attract and retain KP members

“I was almost devastated,” says Karen Cardosa, a grocery clerk in Albany, Oregon, “when UFCW told us they were no longer offering Kaiser Permanente as an insurance option.”

Cardosa and her family had been KP members for years through the union’s Local 555 Employers Health Trust. That changed when a variety of issues resulted in KP losing the account, which covered many Local 555 members. The union continued to represent nearly 2,000 Kaiser Permanente pharmacy and radiology employees, who—as KP staff members—continued to have KP health care.

But today, Kaiser Permanente is again an option for up to 15,000 UFCW members and dependents in the Northwest region who are covered by the health trust.

New way to compete

An affordable price, high quality, a new hospital, expanded clinics and a new billing system helped win back this account. But something else was also at play.

Thanks to the Labor Management Partnership, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions and Kaiser Permanente take a joint approach to winning and keeping health plan members that is almost unheard of elsewhere in this country.

Bringing together union members and KP sales and marketing teams, the campaign helped win, expand, win back or retain 33 accounts covering 125,000 KP members in 2014, with a focus on public-sector accounts.

A broad reach

The effort spans almost every level of the organization and the unions.

Leaders of the local and international unions that belong to the union coalition play an active role in advocating for KP as the preferred health care provider when negotiating contracts or benefit programs with employers.

In addition, some 45 frontline union ambassadors spoke to 25,000 KP members and potential members at outside union and community events in 2014. “I have enjoyed working side by side with the sales and marketing representatives to promote Kaiser Permanente,” says Sera Jordan, a medical assistant, union ambassador and SEIU Local 49 member in the Northwest. “It has enabled me to share my firsthand knowledge of Kaiser Permanente and the care we provide.”

UBTs are a selling point

And unit-based teams, by giving frontline workers a voice in improving quality, service and affordability, are a big selling point for union purchasers of care. UBTs launched more than 8,000 performance improvement projects last year at every point on the KP Value Compass, including thousands of affordability projects that saved, on average, more than $40,000 per project.

“Working with our union partners, we’ve been able to come to the table with customer solutions that meet everybody’s needs—including the unions that aren’t part of KP, who have tremendous influence in purchase decisions,” says Kate Kessler, a Member Sales and Service Administration director. “We are unique in having a strong labor partnership in our own business, and we can speak that language.”

Find out why record membership matters to our current and future members on InsideKP.

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