KPS outlines plans for comeback

"Kitsap Physicians Service is on its way to recovery despite a shaky insurance climate and company woes, according to KPS president Elizabeth Gilje.We are working to stabilize the company, Gilje said. We offer one of the most stable insurance plans out there.In a Sept. 21 presentation to the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce, Gilje outlined why KPS fell into receivership in August 1999 and what the troubled health care provider is doing to get back on its feet.The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner took over financial control of KPS after learning that the local insurance provider had drained its reserves and was in danger of going under.Gilje said KPS's woes are a result of a troubled and ever-changing insurance climate. She said financial instability, managed care and government regulations all have contributed to not only KPS's problems, but to insurance problems all over the nation.Gilje explained insurance company profits normally occur in three-year cycles: profits typically are up for three years, then down for three years. But she said insurance companies currently are in the midst of a five-year slump, which is causing many to sell, merge and shut down. Big companies like Blue Cross are gaining a larger share of the insurance market as they acquire smaller insurers. If some mergers currently under consideration go through, KPS could end up one of the few smaller health care companies in the state.Gilje said managed care also has taken its toll on insurance companies in the past 10 years. She said managed care has taken money away from companies and forced doctors to do more with less. Gilje, who worked for managed health care organizations such as Kaiser Permanente before coming to KPS, said managed care has strapped the insurance industry in the country and caused patients to lose health coverage.I believed in managed care, Gilje said. But as I have looked at the numbers, I have realized it's not the best thing for patients.Regulations also have caused costs to rise at the expense of insurance companies, Gilje said. Prompt payment requirements and patients' bills of rights, although good for consumers, are complex and expensive for insurance companies.This is the environment they are tyring to survive in, Gilje said. Gilje said the company will offer more competitive prices in an attempt to increase its subscriber enrollment 10 percent by next year. She also said the company will strive to communicate with the public and continue to meet and exceed all government regulations. Although the insurance climate is rough, Gilje said KPS will outlast its troubles and will not fall prey to bigger companies and competition.We're not going to do that, Gilje said. I plan to have this company out there long after I'm gone. "

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