Criticism Continues of Kaiser’s Mental Health Services

people waiting in lineIn September 2014, reported on the California Department of Managed Health Care’s decision to fine Kaiser Permanente $4 million for delaying and denying mental health care to its customers. In January, more than 2,500 mental health workers went on strike to protest inadequate staffing and care for Kaiser’s mental health clients. Now, mental health regulators in California are again criticizing Kaiser for its treatment of people experiencing mental health challenges.

Is Kaiser Neglecting Its Mental Health Patients?

In a report issued earlier this week, California’s Department of Managed Health Care said that Kaiser patients continue to face long wait times. In some cases, the HMO gave people incorrect information about their coverage. The report argues that, while Kaiser has improved in some areas since being fined, it continues to fall short in others.

In a review of 300 patient records, regulators found that southern California patients didn’t get appropriate care within a 10- to 15-business-day time frame in 22% of cases. Regulators cited a number of troubling anecdotes to illustrate the problem. A sexual assault victim diagnosed with posttraumatic stress waited five months for care, with a Kaiser psychiatrist suggesting she pursue care outside of her plan at her own expense. In another case, a child with aggressive behavior waited seven weeks before getting therapy, and a teen with a history of suicidal thoughts had to wait 24 days before being seen.

Kaiser Defends Itself

Kaiser continues to argue that it’s improving, with company leaders claiming that they’re proud of the progress the organization has made. The HMO has hired numerous therapists, increasing its therapist roster by 25% since 2011. Kaiser contracted with ValueOptions, a provider network outside the Kaiser system, to offer care.

For people who continue to experience long waits for services, though, the changes aren’t coming fast enough.


Pfeiffer, S., and Terhune, C. (2015, February 24). California again slams Kaiser for delays in mental health treatment. Retrieved from

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  • Gregor


    February 25th, 2015 at 4:24 PM

    Not sure I understand the problem fully. Do you mean that patients are having to wait longer to see a provider because there is no one in that network?

  • lila


    February 26th, 2015 at 5:15 AM

    Any time that there is someone in need of care and they are unable to receive that care because of greed and corporate selfishness, that just makes me sick.
    What happened to being fair and equitable?
    What happened to having a standard of care that everyone deserves to have access to?
    It just isn’t going to happen as long as there are more people in it for the money than there are people in it because they CARE!

  • Jerry


    February 26th, 2015 at 12:23 PM

    How long have they been given to get these numbers under control?

  • BSA


    February 26th, 2015 at 3:50 PM

    It’s not even right that we pay all this money for supposed health care coverage and when we need to use it there is no provider for us in sight.

  • Warren


    February 27th, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    When you have been given incorrect information by your own insurance company over the phone then I guess that there is nothing that you can do to retaliate unless you have that same information in writing. They are so frustrating because it almost feels like at every turn they are doing everything that they can to screw you over, and most of the time they have a lot more resources to fight the argument than the rest of us do!

  • nadia


    February 28th, 2015 at 12:25 PM

    There is sure to be no lack of Kaiser defending themselves, but who is going to defend us?
    If we are unwilling o step up and speak up then our concerns and fears are going to get lost in the shuffle.

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