Public officials criticize Kaiser for rate hikes

OAKLAND, Calif. - One of California's biggest insurers is drawing complaints from employers who say the company's policies are no longer the bargain for quality care that they once were.

The Los Angeles Times reports Kaiser Permanente rejects the criticism, saying it's still a great bargain with prices that are often 10 percent below its rivals.

Officials managing retired state employees and public employees in Los Angeles and San Francisco have criticized ever-rising premiums.

Officials at CalPERS -- which is the nation's third-largest health care buyer -- say Kaiser's premiums have gone up 65 percent since 2007. Other HMO premiums have gone up, too, but not as much.

Unlike fee-for-service care, Kaiser collects an upfront premium to cover all care.

Kaiser runs 37 hospitals nationwide and employs 17,000 doctors.

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