I begin new employment next Monday, and my my new employer offers a choice of health plans through three different providers: Health Net, United Healthcare, and Kaiser Permanente.
Each of these health insurance companies have slightly different features: HMO vs PPO, physician and facility locations, my out of pocket expense (premiums, copays and deductibles) and so forth. I'll pretend that corporate sponsorship of professional cycling will also fit into my decision.
Health Net sponsored a U.S. professional cycling team for six years with Maxxis, supporting a number of young American (US and Canadian) cyclists. Tyler Farrar got his professional start with Health Net. Other familiar names who raced for this team include John Murphy, Rory Sutherland, Jeff Louder and Ryder Jesjedal. The team consistently won races in the USA Cycling race calendar.
When Health Net dropped out of cycling in 2008, their team became Teach OUCH for a while, and this year United Healthcare picked up sponsorship. The 2010 UHC-Maxxis team are Rory Sutherland, Bradley White, Roman Kilun, Karl Menzies, Andrew Pinfold, Tim Johnson and Chris Baldwin. Besides a number of USA Cycling Races throughout North America, UHC will race in the Tour of California coming up this May.
Kaiser Permanente seems to be a little more low key and local in their sponsorship, supporting a handful of club and shop teams such as Team Oakland and local community events like the The Moonlight Classic night time bike ride coming up this July in Denver, Colorado. Besides that, I think their advertising showing cycling as a positive, mainstream activity and mode of transportation absolutely rules.
If all other things are equal (and they're not at all), which corporate sponsorship do you like the best? Health Net's record of professional cycling in the past, UHC's current sponsorship, or Kaiser Permanente's "feel good" local support of events and clubs?
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I don't really know much about the sponsorships, but I can say that UH is pretty kickass insurance. It was our family insurance until very recently (my wife's employer went with MetLife when the UH contract expired...and the jury's still out on that).
I'm very happy with Kaiser and I like the "one-stop shopping" integrated system of care they have. But I have no idea how to compare them as a health care provider to the others. Having said that, I think they win for best bicycling sponsorship. Local clubs, and advertising promoting the bike as something for everyone, not just the Lance Armstrongs of the world? Win.
While Kaiser is convenient with the "one-stop shopping" idea, I really disliked never seeing the same doctor. We're on UnitedHealthCare now and it seems ok, sometimes the bills we end up with are outrageous but that might be more the fact of the providers higher costs. And the co-pay is $20 with medicines at $5. My time with Microsoft was the best as far as health plan, forgot the provider but the co-pay and meds were $0. Nice.
Oh wait, you're asking for the cycling spin WRT these providers...
i am agree with "While Kaiser is convenient with the "one-stop shopping" idea, I really disliked never seeing the same doctor. We're on UnitedHealthCare now and it seems ok, sometimes the bills we end up with are outrageous but that might be more the fact of the providers higher costs. And the co-pay is $20 with medicines at $5. My time with Microsoft was the best as far as health plan, forgot the provider but the co-pay and meds were $0. Nice." - ihsan shanti
I really like Kaiser's promotion of biking as an "everyman"/family activity. I honestly couldn't care less about race sponsorships.
However, I haven't heard fantastic things about Kaiser when it comes to getting care for chronic conditions, seeing specialists, etc. If everyone that would be covered is generally healthy it might be fine. And their approach to technology does seem to be really good.
At some level, health insurance can be so confusing that picking a plan based upon their sponsoring of cycling may well be as good a selection criteria as anything. Writing this statement seems a little scary, but what the heck. We wish all the old Sun guys good luck at Oracle.
I have seen each of these groups refuse to cover life saving treatment for thousands of patients. When I say I have seen it, I have actually been in the room watching their representatives back out of paying for hospitalization of very ill seniors. It is worse now than when I started 15 years ago. As I type this I can picture people who could have done very well if they had been given the time and treatment that was required but denied for profit.
As far as I am concerned, while I love the Kaiser ad, I still believe firmly that you can dress up a pig, but it is still a pig.
I'd go with the low key, local support. racing isn't the stuff of improving health for the masses.
My brother died in the car he bought from me last week. Someone walking down the street in Maryland heard the radio coming from a car buried in snow... what galls me most is the relief I feel. Mike didn't have health insurance - independent taxi drivers can't begin to afford it. Stupid Little Stuff was starting to happen. Kidney stones -- but you can't take time off when your budget is that close to the edge. It's a crap shoot. Go for the better coverage fo ryou.