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Kaiser Patient Stories

I have no faith in Kaiser’s ability to help me

Published Tuesday, March 26, 2019 #

I’ve attempted to receive mental help from Kaiser on multiple occasions, but they have failed me each time. The first time they referred me to an outside therapist, and then decided they weren’t going to cover it, forcing me to pay out of pocket hundreds of dollars and stop my therapy after only three sessions, as I couldn’t afford to continue. After a second unsuccessful attempt to receive care from Kaiser directly, I reached out to my local LGBT center for free counseling with an intern. This helped for a while, but I eventually needed someone with more experience. I found a therapist outside of Kaiser who had a sliding scale fee I could afford. I met with her for several months and it was very helpful, but even with the sliding scale it wasn’t maintainable long term. I have recently had a baby and was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, and am once again attempting to seek help. I have told the therapist and psychiatrist that I have no faith in Kaiser’s ability to help me through this. Seeing a therapist once a month, at best, is deplorable and almost pointless. If I injured my shoulder and had a physical therapy appointment once a month, I would not expect to get better. I don’t believe in Kaiser’s ability to heal anyone.

Alyska
Vista

 

I’m on my own

Published Monday, March 25, 2019 #

I called the Kaiser psychiatry department and saw an intake therapist who recommended therapy for me. I was referred to Magellan healthcare and given a list of providers in my area. I called every number and no one answered. I left countless messages, but I haven’t received a single call back from any of them. I guess I’m on my own when it comes to taking care of my mental health. I know I need help, but I refuse to just take an antidepressant. It’s been at least five months since I was referred for therapy. I’m so over it.

Jacqui
Modesto

My daughter came to Kaiser with anxiety at age 10

Published Sunday, March 24, 2019 #

My daughter came to Kaiser with anxiety at the age of 10. She attended a Kaiser support group for kids with anxiety, but the group model did not give her the tools she needed and she was still anxious. Instead of offering another service, Kaiser told us that she had to just spend the next three years untreated because the only other service Kaiser offered was an anxiety group for adolescents. We waited, and by the time she was old enough for teen group, she had two new diagnoses — OCD and Performance Anxiety. When the Teen Group didn’t work for her, her doctor did not offer any other treatment option but said, “Sometimes teens have to feel really bad before they are willing to make the changes they need to feel better.” And he refused to offer any other service or refer her out to other services.

Megan
San Francisco

This is a terrible abdication of care

Published Saturday, March 23, 2019 #

I tried getting mental health care from Kaiser — even just basic care, like seeing a therapist once a week, the bare minimum for depression — at Kaiser Los Angeles and was informed that they “don’t do weekly therapist appointments.” Instead, they do monthly appointments and then group visits, along with referrals to community resources. Given how much I pay for insurance (plus all my co-pays and other charges), its insane that I can’t see a therapist. Kaiser decided to pull the plug on mental health care and it is terrible. Unless you have some extra cash to pay out of pocket for therapy, you are out of luck with Kaiser. This is a terrible abdication of care.

Dan
Los Angeles

Kaiser’s delays led to one of my suicide attempts

Published Friday, March 22, 2019 #

I was diagnosed with severe depression in my early adolescence and received appropriate care from Kaiser as a pediatric patient all the way to age 18. But once I reached adulthood, it would take a month or more to get a appointment with my therapist and it would be a short appointment at that. When someone with depression and anxiety is trying to get back better and their medications aren’t working, they need help as soon as possible. These delays led to one of my suicide attempts, and even after that, I still felt my care was inadequate. I finally decided to change facilities and providers.

Kaylee
Richmond

My teenage son needed mental healthcare

Published Thursday, March 21, 2019 #

I finally got my teenage son to agree to get help for his mental health issues. He went to his first appointment and agreed to continue, until we found out the next available appointment was eight weeks later. He told me, “Never mind. What’s the point?” It saddens me that my son could have gotten the help he needed but was discouraged by the process. Now we’re back to the chaos of his life and I pray everyday for him.

Lisa
Diamond Bar

my daughter was diagnosed with learning disabilities and an autoimmune disorder

Published Thursday, March 21, 2019 #

I brought my daughter to see a therapist after she was diagnosed with learning disabilities and an autoimmune disorder. I was shocked when the therapist who conducted the intake told me, “We don’t provide individual therapy. I can refer your daughter to a group, but we don’t have a group right now with children her age.” I sought individual treatment for her outside of Kaiser and paid out of pocket for weekly therapy. I am a clinical psychologist myself, and my newest referral in my private practice is a Kaiser patient who was told she could not receive mental health services because her case was not acute and she was not suicidal.

A.J.
Walnut Creek

 

I was only able to see a therapist once every six weeks

Published Wednesday, March 20, 2019 #

I was only able to see a therapist once every six weeks. If the therapist or I were sick at the time of the appointment, I’d have to wait another six weeks to see her — that means I would go three months between appointments. Kaiser encouraged me to go with group therapy, but there were certain things I didn’t want to share in a group. Also, the development of a bond with the therapist is very important, and you can’t build that bond under these conditions. I finally ended up going elsewhere to get the care I needed.

Yvonne
Los Angeles

I called Kaiser bawling my eyes out

Published Tuesday, March 19, 2019 #

After giving birth to my second child, I was suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety. I was desperately trying to get better. I called Kaiser bawling my eyes out, begging for help, and they gave me an appointment for the following day. When I showed up to the appointment, I found out it wasn’t a real appointment but an “intake appointment.” I just answered question for about 30 minutes to see if I even qualified to receive mental healthcare. I was told not to overshare or go too deep into detail. They then gave me an appointment for weeks later. It was devastating to say the very least.

Jeanette
Ontario

I came in with thoughts of suicide

Published Monday, March 18, 2019 #

I came in with thoughts of suicide. I was evaluated, waited two weeks to see a psychiatrist, then three weeks to see a therapist. Then I was told I couldn’t see my therapist more often than once month. If I weren’t lucky enough to find an affordable out-of-network therapist with a much higher copay than Kaiser’s, I could be dead.

Will
Point Loma

This is simply unacceptable

Published Sunday, March 17, 2019 #

I had a relapse of an emotional breakdown I’d experienced following the death of my husband several years ago. While Kaiser was quick to prescribe antidepressants, I was told that the wait to see a therapist was averaging two and a half months. That was in October. I had my first visit on December 7, and was told the next one would be February 18. I cannot afford outside therapy at $180 an hour. This is simply unacceptable, and my view of Kaiser, which had been good, has declined radically.

Linda
Pasadena

I wish Kaiser would acknowledge that they are short-staffed

Published Saturday, March 16, 2019 #

I have been seeing a Kaiser therapist for six months. I can only her every four or five weeks because she has no availability before that. Kaiser mental health therapists work very hard to support their patients. They are very caring and very competent! Unfortunately, you can tell that they are exhausted. I wish Kaiser would acknowledge that they are short-staffed. The therapists are doing the best they can with the ridiculous load of patients they care for and the limited resources that they are given! Kaiser is a billion dollar company, so why won’t they with treat their employees fairly and show some appreciation for their hard work!

Alyssa
Santa Clarita

Please, Kaiser, help us

Published Friday, March 15, 2019 #

I have been diagnosed with Bipolar II and anxiety. Life is hard with these conditions, harder when you you can only see your therapist once every month if you are lucky. It got so bad that I had to personally call my therapist so she could (hopefully) squeeze me in at the last second during one of my depressed times. Knowing these wait times were ridiculous and dangerous for me, I called Kaiser to see if I could switch locations. They said they would put in the request. I never heard back. I tried again. Never heard back. Eventually they told me that other hospitals were closed to new patients because they were already backlogged. I then tried to request an out-of-network therapist. They said they would not reimburse me because technically I “could” still see a Kaiser therapist, even though it took a month. I now pay $160 a visit a therapist outside of Kaiser — an amount I couldn’t afford myself without my families help. Please, Kaiser, help us.

Julia
Campbell

I deserve to receive the help I need and pay for

Published Thursday, March 14, 2019 #

I’d been struggling and feeling lost and finally worked up the nerve to look into seeing a therapist. I called Kaiser and was told that my plan covers mental health services and there was no limit to the number of sessions. Great, I thought, so I phoned the Kaiser near me to set up an initial screening. At the screening I was told that my issues were not severe enough for me to see a Kaiser therapist. I was instead given a list of outside providers that I could  pay on my own, and a list of one-day workshops that Kaiser might provide in my area (most were not) on topics like meditation (which I already do). Kaiser promotes itself as being a big proponent for preventative treatments but, when I tried to see seek out mental health treatment  to help curb potentially struggling with an even more severe depression, I was turned away. I’m paying for a plan that covers mental health treatment so long as I see a Kaiser therapist, but Kaiser won’t let me. I deserve to receive the help I need and pay for.

Megan
Walnut Creek

My therapist is overbooked

Published Wednesday, March 13, 2019 #

I am depressed and finally made that first step of making an appointment with a therapist. My first appointment was on November 30, and I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time as I left my appointment. When I learned I wouldn’t be able to get another appointment until February 2, my hope diminished. I’m paying a huge sum monthly to be a part of Kaiser and can’t even utilize my benefits because my therapist is overbooked. Please help me treat my depression!

Karis
Corona

I still have to wait another month to get seen

Published Tuesday, March 12, 2019 #

I have a history of depression and anxiety. I called to schedule an appointment in October and was told I couldn’t be seen until January 17. My mother was diagnosed with cancer shortly after that, and my anxiety worsened. I called Kaiser several times and explained why I needed immediate care. They promised someone would call me if there were cancellations and an appointment opened up for me, but no one ever did. I called the clinic again, desperate, and was able to talk to a therapist over the phone. It’s been three weeks since that phone call. I still have to wait another month to be seen by somebody, and, I’m afraid that I won’t able to even see the assigned therapist on a consistent basis, which is what I really need. This is absurd.

Jann
Santa Ana

Kaiser doesn’t listen

Published Monday, March 11, 2019 #

I suffer from major depressive disorder and PTSD. On average I have had to wait three months to see my psychiatrist. If I feel dangerously depressed, I’m told to go to the emergency room, which means they will order a 5150. I don’t want that — I just want someone to speak with. Instead of individual therapy, due to the lack of available therapists, I’m shoehorned into attending groups. Kaiser doesn’t listen and seems to distrust the very patients they are employed to serve. Keep in mind I have worked in the social service field for over two decades and would never treat a person the way they do.

Alex
Santa Rosa

This is not effective mental health care

Published Sunday, March 10, 2019 #

I was seeking a therapist, and Kaiser referred me to an outside provider (Magellan). It took two weeks for my referral to get to Magellan, then another three weeks for Magellen to send me a list provider names. None of the providers on the list was accepting clients. I was able to do my own search of Magellan’s database; I contacted approximately 25 providers over the course of a month until I finally found someone. However, after three sessions, her practice stopped accepting Kaiser’s insurance and we had to terminate treatment. Ultimately, I stopped looking for a provider. This is not effective mental health care.

Briana
Oakland

Help seemed so far away

Published Saturday, March 9, 2019 #

I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. This year I went through some major changes in my life, which triggered an episode of depression for me that has left me debilitated for months. I am also a mother of two. Luckily, I’m not the type to not reach out for help. But when I did, I was told the first available appointment to see my psychiatrist was eight weeks away. I went through moments of feeling as though I would be better off disappearing because the emotional pain and suffering were too much to live with, and I felt like a burden on my family. Help seemed so far away. It still does.

Anonymous
Los Angeles

I had to call Kaiser SIX times

Published Friday, March 8, 2019 #

After trying for five weeks to schedule an appointment for mental health services with Kaiser, I was finally scheduled with an outside party that Kaiser uses to refer their clients for services. I had to call Kaiser SIX times because they never sent my referral, but when I had a sore throat I got an appointment the same day.

John
San Francisco

I am saddened and angry at the way I was treated.

Published Thursday, March 7, 2019 #

When I was pregnant with my son, I had horrible anxiety. I called Kaiser mental health services and was told it would take a month to get an appointment with a psychiatrist. I couldn’t believe it. I was in extreme distress, and the psychiatrist continued to recommend that I see someone weekly, but Kaiser could not help me with that. I pay Kaiser a lot of money and they failed to help me with basic mental health services. I am saddened and angry at the way I was treated.

Nicole
San Francisco

This has to stop – mental health matters!

Published Wednesday, March 6, 2019 #

I am a Kaiser patient, and it is very common I have to wait at least four weeks to see my therapist. As a man who suffers from anxiety and depression, there are numerous times I’ve had to have my family talk me off the ledge. This has to stop – mental health matters!

John
Ontario

Three months is too long to wait for care

Published Tuesday, March 5, 2019 #

My 14-year-old son was experiencing anxiety and depression last school year. I took him to his primary care physician, who referred him to a therapist. We waited approximately two months for this first appointment. The next appointment date she gave my son was three months after the first. Now I private pay someone who can see my son in a timely and more effective fashion. Three months is too long to wait for care. While we are fortunate that my son’s anxiety has been effectively managed, this is poor form for other patients who need the care.

Anonymous
Los Angeles

I have had to wait almost six weeks

Published Monday, March 4, 2019 #

I’m a former mental health clinician from a local nonprofit who received clients from Kaiser who also qualified for Medi-Cal services. My client told me they received better care from my non-profit than from Kaiser. Now, as a school mental health professional at a middle school, I have referred students to therapy who have suicidal and self-harm tendencies and the quickest appointment they could get was in two weeks. Now, as I attempted to work on my own mental health, I have had to wait almost six weeks for my second therapy appointment. I joke around that Medi-Cal mental health clients receive better mental health care but, it is no longer a joke?

Krystal
West Covina

I struggled to parent my daughter for several years

Published Sunday, March 3, 2019 #

I struggled to parent my daughter for several years. When she was four, I got a referral from her pediatrician to the psychology department for assessments in possible areas of Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, or other disorders that may be impacting her behavior and leading to extreme meltdowns, night terrors, very late potty training, and cognitive development concerns. The psychologist met with me once to discuss my concerns, then met my daughter for 20 minutes, during which time she was uncomfortable but not displaying any of the concerning behaviors. I was then told I just “don’t know how to parent” and offered a group general parenting class in the middle of my workday. Fast forward five years: it turns out my daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder, several cognitive delays, performs more than two grade levels below her actual grade, and has been referred by her pediatrician yet again for Autism Spectrum assessments. It sure would have been nice if Kaiser would have just done the assessments originally, instead of letting me struggle for five years to manage her behavior. I spent countless nights feeling inadequate because we we were lead to believe we just weren’t good parents.

Laurel
Santa Rosa

These kids struggle to access appropriate care

Published Saturday, March 2, 2019 #

I work directly in schools and regularly work with adolescents going through mental health crises. I saw time and time again these kids struggle to access appropriate care — or any care at all. Adolescents clearly in need of consistent therapy were coming to us with their parents, saying that all they received from Kaiser was a prescription for medication. The lucky ones who were given access to minimal care (twice per month instead of the weekly therapy they needed) saw difficulty scheduling actual appointments. I was appalled to find out that many of these students never got an appointment —  Kaiser simply refilled their medication prescription. The ONLY times I saw Kaiser step up was after these adolescents attempted suicide. Only then were they given access to consistent therapy sessions (although these were still group therapy sessions instead of the superior individual sessions), and these sessions were still time-limited. Parents were paying out-of-pocket for non-Kaiser therapists to see their children — a heavy and inexplicable burden considering they were paying for their Kaiser health insurance. Kaiser clearly uses a “wait to fail” model rather than being proactive — a very irresponsible and negligent choice when our children’s lives are at stake.

Carlton
San Mateo

I had a total nervous breakdown

Published Friday, March 1, 2019 #

I had a total nervous breakdown earlier this year, and needed to see a psychotherapist soon, and regularly. Kaiser made me wait two weeks for an initial appointment, and follow-up appointments weren’t available for another three weeks each time I saw the therapist. They tried to push me into a group support right away when what I truly needed was regular weekly visits with a therapist.

Mark
San Francisco

It took three months to get an initial appointment

Published Thursday, February 28, 2019 #

I was clinically diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was about 13. I am now 34. I used to see therapists weekly. Since switching back to Kaiser through my employer’s healthcare plan last year, I wanted to begin treatment again. It took three months to get an initial appointment. After that, it was every other month. And at each appointment, all they do is try to sign you up for group therapy, barely doing any actual therapy, and always cutting sessions short by 15 or 20 minutes. I even switched therapists to see if it would help. It did not. I have decided to stop wasting my money, and cancel all therapy, despite needing it during a very difficult time in my life right now. I am hoping I can cope with just my medication. It is very disappointing and discouraging.

Veronica
Daly City

I was denied care twice

Published Wednesday, February 27, 2019 #

I was denied care twice, both through Kaiser Sacramento. I had never sought counseling before and went for my intake assessment. I explained my feelings of anxiety, depression and worthlessness. The doctor told me to go to a group coping skills class. I went to the class, but it didn’t help. The original doctor told me I could always call back if my symptoms changed, so I did. The phone operator told me, once more, “There’s nothing we can do for you.” I broke down on the phone, saying I was hurting and wanted to speak to a supervisor. After being told that none were available, I was once more instructed to try out the coping skills class. I was told one of the supervisors would get back to me, but they never called. Six months after my intake, I’m still waiting for care. But I guess, because I’m not suicidal, I don’t matter.

Emily
Sacramento

I waited two months for an appointment

Published Tuesday, February 26, 2019 #

I waited two months for an appointment and had to miss work (I’m a teacher) to go. When I was finally seen, I was told I could only have group therapy that met during the day. I was prescribed a benzodiazepine for anxiety, which I later found is not safe for long-term use. Over the holidays, I had trouble getting a refill…I called and called and my refill was never submitted to the pharmacy. As a result, I went through withdrawal and had shaking, vomiting and fever for days. When that was over, I didn’t want to take the benzos anymore because of what they did to me. I was not able to get an appointment to find a more suitable drug. My then-fiance and I registered as domestic partners months before our wedding just so I could get on his non-Kaiser insurance.

Kelly
Oakland

I felt out of control and ended up in the ER

Published Monday, February 25, 2019 #

I work for Kaiser as a nurse. At one point I felt out of control and ended up in the ER on a 5150. Then I became the patient. The follow-up was with Canyon Crest. That was the first in-take appointment. The follow-up for treatment and care was months out. Everything about the appointment process was a joke. By the grace of God I have found my own way out of the downward spiral that I was on, but I shouldn’t have had to rely on myself to treat myself. I believe the whole system is broken. It has been broken for some time. Things need to changed for the safety of our patients, employees, and physicians. When there is nowhere to turn for the help you need, horrible events take place. I have a lot of coworkers, including other nurses, who have experienced the same thing, and some don’t have the best outcomes in the end. These are the ones who struggle the hardest and lose the fight. There needs to be a change!

Suzanne
Riverside

The emotional suffering was too much

Published Sunday, February 24, 2019 #

I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. This year I went through some major changes in my life (major work stress, loss of a loved one, end of my marriage). The stress of all these events combined triggered an episode of depression that has left me debilitated for months. Luckily, I knew I needed to reach out for help. But when I did, I was told the first available appointment to see my psychiatrist was eight weeks away. I went through moments of feeling as though I would be better off disappearing because the emotional suffering was too much to live with and I felt like a burden on my family. Help seemed so far away. It still does.

Anonymous
Los Angeles

In 2002 my dad committed suicide

Published Saturday, February 23, 2019 #

In 2002 my dad committed suicide. The day before, he had called Kaiser seeking help. He was told it would take weeks for him to see a therapist or get a space in an inpatient treatment program. Needless to say, my family often wonders what would have happened if Kaiser had offered something — anything — to help him.

Lily
Santa Rosa

I’ve repeatedly requested a Kaiser psychiatrist

Published Friday, February 22, 2019 #

My family selected Kaiser in large part because we were told you didn’t need a referral for psychiatry. I immediately requested a psychiatrist for care of my previously diagnosed anxiety and OCD. I was told I didn’t need a psychiatrist because my PCP could manage my medications, but I could see a psychologist. At my first visit, the psychologist agreed that I needed consistent and frequent therapy, but said that Kaiser could not accommodate more than one session per six weeks. I missed one appointment and was removed from the system. I was given a referral for care outside Kaiser. I was given one therapist to call and it didn’t work out. After repeated attempts to obtain a psychiatrist, I was finally referred out of network to a physician an hour away. This physician only did video appointments. I was billed for more than $500 in fees that I would not have been responsible for had I been allowed to see a doctor at Kaiser. I currently monitor my own psych meds with a PCP calling in my refills. In more than three years, Kaiser has refused to provide me a psychiatrist at all, let alone one I can see on a regular basis. I’ve repeatedly requested a Kaiser psychiatrist and have been repeatedly told I am “on a different system and only qualify for outside referrals.” After the last nightmare, I refuse to go down that path again.

Mandy
Walnut Creek

Kaiser’s understaffing is an insult to humanity

Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 #

There is a special place in hell for the administrators responsible for the state affairs with mental health services at Kaiser. I’m glad that I had a support community because let me tell you, Kaiser won’t be there for you. The understaffing is an insult to humanity; Kaiser makes everything so hard for people who are struggling to just cope with life. This destabilizing policy puts the staff in danger as well. It is unbelievable how the profit motive has so thoroughly trumped concern for patients at Kaiser mental health services.

Ivar
Oakland

I finally got a therapy appointment at Kaiser after 2+ months

Published Wednesday, February 20, 2019 #

I have had private mental health treatment in the past, so I have a benchmark for what acceptable care is and I have learned some coping mechanisms along the way. Kaiser does NOT provide an acceptable standard of care. I finally got a therapy appointment at Kaiser after two and a half months of trying. To Kaiser’s credit, they asked me how “dire” my situation was, and whether I “needed” to see someone right away. But, as someone with anxiety, it was easy for me to doubt that my troubles were bad enough to displace someone else, someone who might need the care more than I did. I was asked if I was suicidal and I said at the time I wasn’t, so I was denied care.

Melissa
Daly City

I tell everyone I know to think twice before choosing Kaiser

Published Tuesday, February 19, 2019 #

Every time I called to figure out what services I could receive under my company sponsored Kaiser insurance, I was told that I could not receive regular mental health treatment outside of care for an emergency psychiatric event. How is an insurance company so focused on patients “thriving” so incredibly stingy when it comes to patients’ mental health? I tell everyone I know to think twice before choosing Kaiser if they ever hope to seek any type of therapy or counseling covered under any other insurance.

Laura
Oakland

This is cost-cutting at the expense of our health

Published Monday, February 18, 2019 #

I experienced postpartum depression with my first child, and prenatal and postpartum anxiety with my second. I needed weekly or biweekly counseling, but Kaiser could only offer a check-in with the doctor every two to four months. After several years of struggling, I learned Kaiser would refer out for therapy, and I requested this. Their contract agency did not have any therapists in my area – none. I have suffered on my own, and with the help of family, for five years now. Five years of paying Kaiser for care I did not receive. This is not healthcare. This is cost-cutting at the expense of our health.

Katy
Vacaville

Kaiser should be the leader in mental health care

Published Sunday, February 17, 2019 #

I have been a Kaiser member since birth. After a miscarriage 16 years ago, I experienced a major depressive episode and began taking medication for my illness. Today, I am still on medication and I really love my psychiatrist. However, when it comes to regular therapy, which I was in desperate need of approximately four years ago, the wait to see someone at Kaiser was just too long. Instead, I found another therapist and paid $150 per session, out of pocket. If I had had to wait to see someone through Kaiser, I don’t want to think what might have happened. My depression and anxiety had returned in a big way, and weekly therapy literally saved my life. I should not have had to go outside of Kaiser to get the care I needed. Luckily we were able to afford the extra expense, and it was worth every penny to feel well and whole again. However, there are many out there who are not able to pay out of pocket for desperately needed care. Kaiser should be the leader in mental health care. There is no excuse for the wait times that are currently the norm in the mental health department. I stand with NUHW; change is needed immediately!

Jeanette
Norwalk

I can only see my therapist once every other month

Published Saturday, February 16, 2019 #

I am a Kaiser member and have been getting therapy for the past five years. I can only see my therapist once every other month. Sometimes my therapist has had to cancel our appointment, and then I go as long as four months between visits. This isn’t sufficient!

Kim
Santa Rosa

I have to wait six months to see my psychiatrist to evaluate my meds

Published Friday, February 15, 2019 #

I have to wait six months to see my psychiatrist to evaluate my meds. That’s ridiculous. Also, I can see a social worker, but hardly ever as she is so busy. If I need counseling, which I do, the best she can do is refer me to a group counseling session. I don’t want to go to group therapy. It’s useless and complete waste of my time. I want a session with my own provider who is listening to just me. Otherwise, I get what? Ten minutes — at most — to discuss my issues and get feedback?

Ashley
Pasadeina

It took forever to get an appointment

Published Thursday, February 14, 2019 #

It took forever to get an appointment when my daughter was experiencing depression and anxiety attacks. The Kaiser facility we went to was an old building, somewhat hidden, and it was hard to find the entrance.  It was dark and depressing, like an old mental hospital. This has to be unsettling for the young people coming in with mental health issues. This was shocking given Kaiser’s new buildings on Broadway and MacArthur. It is obvious that Kaiser isn’t investing equal resources in its mental healthcare facilities staffing. Very disappointing and very sad!

Bonnie
Oakland

know better than to rely on Kaiser when I need a therapist

Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019 #

I have been a Kaiser member since the early 1990s, and I know better than to rely on Kaiser when I need a therapist. A couple years ago, after running through whatever Kaiser therapists I could see, I tried Kaiser’s outside referral service, and it was horrible. It took three tries just to get through to a person, and they couldn’t answer my questions nor find someone in my area. They emailed me a list of practitioners that supplied only addresses — no information about their education or years in practice. I had to interview each potential therapist myself, then had to make three more calls to get an appointment with the one I chose. I was approved for one therapy appointment, and this took more than six weeks. When this therapist did not work out, and I found out I had to go through the same process to get another, I just quit. That’s probably what they were trying to do — discourage patients so they could save money. Luckily, I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t suicidal, but what about those who are?

Deirdre
Los Angeles

This is an unacceptable way to treat patients with drug problems

Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019 #

I sought help from Kaiser after using drugs for 25 years. Kaiser recently sent me to a program called the Lighthouse. They only wanted me to stay seven days; I pushed the issue and was able to stay 14. They were supposed to transfer me to an intensive outpatient program, but they cancelled my intake appointment and never called to reschedule. I showed up at the office and pushed to be seen. They saw me and scheduled an intake appointment for two days later. At that appointment I was informed that there was a waitlist for the program. I have now been out of rehab for 13 days and am still not in a phase two program. This is an unacceptable way to treat patients with drug problems who are trying to stay clean. If Kaiser cannot handle to number of patients, they should outsource. Bottom line is, our insurance should be meeting our needs and it is not. Mental health is the most important aspect to surviving for drug addicts, and these programs need to be available immediately. It is hard enough to seek out help on our own, and waiting to get help in these situations can be disastrous.

Emit
Fontana

It’s been six months since I first reached out

Published Tuesday, February 12, 2019 #

Kaiser referred me to Beacon. I’ve called Beacon, and waited on hold many times, during business hours, but never spoken to a person. Once I held for more than 40 minutes. Once or twice, I got a call back, but I was teaching at that moment and couldn’t answer. They left voicemail to call them back, but no instructions about how I might get my badly needed therapy. I will call again tomorrow, but I’m very frustrated and don’t know how I will get help. I need to speak to a person who will set up an appointment for me at a reasonable time. It’s been six months since I first reached out, and things have gotten a lot worse. Several of my friends are therapists and they tell me this area is oversaturated with therapists, so why is Kaiser so short-staffed?

Sarah
San Francisco

They try to get you in and out

Published Monday, February 11, 2019 #

My experience with Kaiser is that they try to get you in and out, with barely any access to true mental health care. This can only lead to more deaths, suicides and illness on Kaiser’s bloody hands. It really is deplorable. My therapist is wonderful and has helped me as much as she possibly can under the restrictions and limitations of how often and how many times I allowed to see her. With mental illness having such a stigma, it really is horrible that Kaiser does this to people who may have too much shame to defend themselves and get the care they need.
Shame on you, Kaiser!

Susan
Napa

I called Kaiser after having a series of panic attacks

Published Sunday, February 10, 2019 #

I had Kaiser and called the help line after having a series of panic attacks. I called in  early November and the earliest appointment they could give me was late December. I had to learn to cope with my own panic attacks through those weeks, anxiously waiting for my appointment. When I finally got help, I was only able to see my psychologist once a month. I needed more help than that. Their solution was to prescribe me medication, but only after attending group counseling. I have social anxiety, so being forced to go to an anxiety group only made my condition worse. I was desperate and they weren’t able to give me the treatment I needed.

Rebecca
Redwood City

I was suffering from near-constant anxiety and suicidal thoughts

Published Saturday, February 9, 2019 #

When I started suffering from severe depression, I had Kaiser insurance through my parents’ plan. Even though I was suffering from near-constant anxiety and suicidal thoughts, I was made to wait six weeks to see a therapist. That therapist criticized me for not seeking care sooner. When I asked to be recommended to a different practitioner, she refused to continue treating me and didn’t refer me to any other therapist. Kaiser then told me it would be another six to seven weeks before I could see a different mental health professional. Thankfully, I soon received new health insurance through work. I genuinely believe that if I still used Kaiser, I would have suffered a serious psychological episode without treatment.

Jakob
Sacramento

I never got a call back from Kaiser

Published Thursday, February 7, 2019 #

Last year I scheduled an appointment at Kaiser-Napa for counseling. I was going through a rough spot, so my primary care doctor scheduled an appointment for me. I am also a counselor, so I knew I needed to get right to it.

I saw a wonderful therapist, and we got to work. We were doing very well for several visits. Then I showed up for an appointment one day, and the clerk took me back to the office and told me my therapist had been seen running to her car. She never returned and nobody was talking. I wanted to work with a female therapist so my name put on a waiting list. I never got a call back from Kaiser.

Sandra
Napa

I tried to convince Kaiser for years that my love was suicidal

Published Wednesday, February 6, 2019 #

After trying to convince Kaiser for years that my love was suicidal, they released him from care after three days and he committed suicide. They called and left a message that he missed a follow up appointment, so I called and left a message that he missed his appointment because he was dead, and that I thought they do a lousy job of helping people. They actually called me back and wanted to know if I thought they released him too soon. I said, “He’s dead!”

Vic
Walnut Creek

This level of neglect is unacceptable

Published Monday, February 4, 2019 #

My 18-year-old sister has anxiety attacks, depression, and a history of self-harm. When she moved to a new town, her anxiety went through the roof. She would call me at all hours, unable to sleep, paralyzed with fear. The disruptive thoughts were so crippling that at times she wasn’t able to leave her house to go to work. She tried to make an appointment with a mental healthcare provider at Kaiser, and was offered an appointment eight weeks away. When I tried to find her additional help through local services, they denied her because she had insurance. We even considered dropping her off of the Kaiser insurance so that she could use MediCal and get the help she needed in a reasonable amount of time. This level of neglect is unacceptable. Kaiser needs more mental health clinicians NOW.

Bryanna
Napa

 

I cannot begin to tell you the horror stories I have heard

Published Sunday, February 3, 2019 #

As a former employee for Kaiser Permanente Member Services, I can attest first hand to how poor access to mental health department is. In my seven years there, I spent my time dealing with member grievances, and it was our job to either look for a sooner appointment, or to determine why the care they so desperately need is “‘not medically indicated.”

I cannot begin to tell you the horror stories I have heard. I worked statewide, and there was not one mental health department doing it right. The solution in recent years has been to refer people out, but this does not always happen and isn’t available in all regions. Kaiser Peramente’s attitude toward mental health is not only callous, but dangerous too. They know they can afford to pay any fine provided and since it’s cheaper to pay a fine, they won’t ever fix the problem. We would get a heads-up of any negative media coverage, of which we’ve had several, and were told what we could and could not say. There have been many lawsuits against Kaiser Permanente due to their poor mental health access.

Amanda
Former Kaiser Staff

They make you jump through hoops

Published Sunday, February 3, 2019 #

They make you jump through hoops and run through a bureaucratic obstacle course before you can see a provider. Access to an actual psychiatrist is almost impossible unless you merely want medication. They hand you off to newly certified social workers or demand you go to a group. Sorry, one size does not fit all. Young people just out of school may not have the experience and wisdom it takes to counsel eighty-year-olds. Kaiser’s Mental Health Department is the weak link in their system. Management: Stop penny-pinching the patients and staff and give us some quality here.

Barbara
Lomita

My son attempted suicide by slashing his wrist

Published Friday, February 1, 2019 #

My son attempted suicide by slashing his wrist. He was taken to a Kaiser hospital, his wrist was sewn up, he was held for a few hours for observation, and released. When I asked the attending psychiatrist whether further observation wasn’t called for after a suicide attempt, he told me that “technically, this was not a suicide attempt, but a case of self-mutilation, so no further observation is necessary.” I told him, “It won’t matter to my son or to me what you call it, if the next time he ends up dead.” He didn’t reply. 

Joe
Los Angeles

Kaiser’s poor mental health care continues

Published Thursday, January 31, 2019 #

Kaiser’s poor mental health care continues. In August, we brought our son in to their chemical dependency office. They sent us home without completing the intake forms because the person who gave us the clipboard failed to give us all the correct forms. Then, when we went back a week later, they diagnosed him with mild to moderate alcoholism and offered group therapy in two locations, both more than an hour away. He is having black-out drinking episodes, trying to run away, and he totaled our cars. No offer of a setting in San Rafael. How on earth can they think that’s appropriate mental health care? That’s basically offering nothing.

Anonymous
San Rafael

Kaiser contracts with unethical, poorly run practices

Published Wednesday, January 30, 2019 #

I worked at a group practice called ACT Family Counseling that is contracted with Kaiser. I was made to see ten clients per day, and my pay was reduced when I insisted on seeing fewer patients. My clients were only allowed to come twice per month for appointments. I was not allowed to see my charts and had to ask permission from the teenage receptionists with no mental health background when I needed contact information for clients. When I gave notice of my resignation to ACT Family Counseling, my clients were reassigned to other therapists without my knowledge and simply told I had left and they could no longer see me. That Kaiser contracts with unethical, poorly run practices that are unaware of patient rights, is a big part of the problem with Kaiser. I have Kaiser clients who pay a cash rate to continue to see me, as Kaiser refuses to contract with providers who are sole proprietors. Kaiser is unwilling to provide appropriate access to services; as a result its members are left with no mental health services or inadequate services.

Tracie
Redlands

I was desperate for help earlier this spring

Published Tuesday, January 29, 2019 #

Desperate for help earlier this spring, I called Kaiser and was informed that I would not be able to see anyone for two or three months, unless I was willing to see someone who was retiring in a few weeks. I was immediately scheduled for the next week – only to find out that the appointment was only ONLY for evaluation. The first scheduled appointment after evaluation would be a month away. I was desperate – I agreed, and was told I could get on a more specific schedule in two months. I saw the retiring counselor a few times, then waited another month to start a long-term process with someone else. My new therapist would only schedule two advance appointments – three weeks apart, explaining that the schedule was just over-booked. I requested that we schedule additional appointments, and he said that he didn’t like to do that, as one never knows what is in the future. I finally had my two appointments and I really felt a positive connection with him. At the end of the second appointment, though, I was informed that no additional appointments would be scheduled as he was leaving Kaiser.

What? Good job Kaiser – one of my issues from childhood is abandonment.

To get rescheduled, well, that would take a couple more months. I am still seeking care, and will outside of Kaiser after the first of the year.

I was overwhelmed with severe depression and anxiety

Published Monday, January 28, 2019 #

I told my primary care physician I was overwhelmed with severe depression and anxiety. She gave me a number for the Kaiser mental health care clinic. It took me about a month to get up the courage to call. When I did, they said they were understaffed and I would have to go through Magellan. I called Magellan, who referred me to their website for a list of providers. I called every provider on the list until someone finally agreed to see me. Everyone else I called refused to see me because “Kaiser doesn’t pay.” Finally, someone agreed to see me, but their first available appointment was still five weeks out. The lack of support from Kaiser and being turned away repeatedly was emotionally crushing and just humiliating.

There is no health care parity at Kaiser

Published Monday, January 28, 2019 #

Our beautiful, talented daughter Elizabeth went to college at age 15. When she came home on summer break at 17, she said she thought she needed to see a therapist. We immediately went to Kaiser, and the battle to provide care for her began. 

We first called Kaiser in late May; the first appointment available was in mid-July. We searched for other caregivers in a huge sea of therapists with no coordination from Kaiser. By Thanksgiving, Elizabeth was experiencing terrible suicidal ideation. We lobbied Kaiser for five months, along with Elizabeth’s non-Kaiser therapist, to approve her admission to a 60-day program outside Kaiser. Kaiser offered to cover 12 days. Would a Kaiser patient get one-fifth the chemotherapy they needed?

The last time Elizabeth was home from college, it took a month before she could meet with a psychiatrist to discuss her diagnosis and a change to her medication. The psychiatrist spent 20 minutes with her, and he didn’t modify her medication.  On January 10, 2018, she hanged herself. She survived, but she had a traumatic brain injury. On May 18, she died.

I own a small business, and we selected Kaiser many years ago for our employees’ healthcare because of its emphasis on preventive medicine. At about the same time Elizabeth was trying to get treatment from Kaiser, my business partner’s wife was diagnosed with cancer. Within hours, a team of specialists were scheduling tests and within days treatments were applied and followups scheduled. Her cancer is in remission, and her family’s life can go on after such a horrific scare. Between physical care and mental care, there is no health care parity at Kaiser. 

elizabethmorganbrown.org

It was stressful trying to get help

Published Sunday, January 27, 2019 #

I was in need of Kaiser mental health services and it took way too long to get care. Initially, they got me in right away, but then I saw three different people in two weeks and didn’t have an appointment for another two weeks. I feel like I didn’t receive consistent care and it was stressful trying to get the help I needed. I needed ongoing care, but the next available appointment wasn’t for another two months. The people who I saw were great, but the system that Kaiser has for mental health was terrible. It’s too late by the time you get care, not consistent, and makes the process more stressful than it should be. I was very disappointed with the Kaiser Mental Health services. I’ve been an advocate for all of Kaiser’s other health services but this one was very disappointing.

Rebecca
Culver Marina

I found myself having issues with grief and depression

Published Saturday, January 26, 2019 #

Several years ago my Mother passed away. In the months that followed, I found myself having issues with grief and depression. I went to Kaiser Walnut Creek and asked to see a therapist. I was put on antidepressants, which I was against. I didn’t feel I had a chemical imbalance or a condition that could be treated with medication. I just needed to talk, some therapy. My depression turned to thoughts of suicide, and I almost killed myself. I stopped taking the antidepressant they prescribed and I never saw the therapist. I don’t have any faith in Kaiser or how they handle mental health.

Jonthan
Walnut Creek

Kaiser takes forever to schedule appointments

Published Friday, January 25, 2019 #

I have two immediate family members who deal with chronic depression and anxiety, and they have all but given up on Kaiser mental health care services. Kaiser takes forever to schedule appointments, and they are very disengaged with their patients, relying heavily on prescription medication and group therapy sessions for everything, even when it doesn’t help the patient’s condition.

It feels as though they aren’t really listening, and don’t really care about their patients. Both family members refuse to call them now, because their experiences have been cause for further depression and anxiety. It doesn’t help that Kaiser appears to be vastly understaffed in this area, and that they shuffle patients around due to frequent staff turnover.

David
Walnut Creek

My treatment was disrupted midstream

Published Friday, January 25, 2019 #

I’ve been a member of Kaiser for about six years. I have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depression Recurrent, and Borderline Personality Disorder. I take many medications to help manage my mental health. However, medication can only do so much. 

I made my first suicide attempt was when I was approximately 21 years old.

I became a Kaiser member around 2009 and attempted to get help from their mental health department. I made them aware of my past suicide attempt and behaviors. Instead of being offered individual therapy, I was put in to group therapy. I had to attend this group therapy in order to get medication, but it wasn’t really helping me at all. Then one of the teachers reached out to me and found out I didn’t have an individual therapist at Kaiser. He began working with me individually as much as he could; appointments were scheduled anywhere from six to eight weeks apart, sometimes longer. During one of those waits, I attempted suicide again.

After that, Kaiser tried to push me into group therapy again. I managed to reconnect with the therapist who had helped me before. It was still really hard to have appointments that were so far apart, but I had come to trust him and was making progress. Then he told me he would be leaving Kaiser in 90 days, but I would be able to see him in his private practice. 

But less than 90 days later, a day before my next appointment, I received a phone call from a receptionist at Kaiser informing me that my therapist would not be able to see me any longer. My treatment was disrupted midstream and my trust felt broken. I again fell into a very deep depression. I started planning suicide again, and this time I was determined to succeed.

But then I happened to Google my former Kaiser therapist, and found out that he had been trying to contact me and his other patients who were in mid-treatment, but he had been let go before his 90 days were up. Despite having to pay out of pocket for the care that Kaiser should have been providing me, I reconnected with my therapist and we began working together right away. I have been able to quit two of my medications, and I have never been better. I made more progress in six months with him in his private practice, than I did in the five years that I saw him at Kaiser.

Having such gaps between appointments doesn’t allow you to build a foundation of trust that is essential in treating mental illness. Many people with mental illness are victims of trauma. Their trust is already so fragile, and you cannot build anything on fragile ground.  

Chelsea
Santa Rosa

Kaiser failed my husband

Published Friday, January 25, 2019 #

Kaiser failed my husband, Peter Kingston, and now he’s dead.

Peter was experiencing increasing anxiety and reached out to Kaiser for help. He received a brief screening and an hour-long intake, and was diagnosed with panic disorder and major depression. Kaiser booked him for an Introduction to Anxiety Disorders group class and the next available therapy appointment – 42 days out.

We had an incredibly wonderful and happy life and marriage, but he got sick and he didn’t get treated by his provider.

Changing his medication doses might have helped, but Kaiser didn’t monitor them adequately. Worse, no one ever asked if he had ever tried to take his life. He had, 14 years earlier. If they had asked, they might have treated him more seriously, and things would have turned out differently.

Ironically, Peter had been treated in Kaiser’s ER for heart palpitations two years before his mental health problems surfaced, and received excellent care. He was kept for six hours and given a barrage of tests. I only wish his mental health would have been treated with the same care.

If his depression had been treated with the same level of care as his heart palpitations, he would still be alive today.

— Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County (Calif.) Supervisor, District 3

Kaiser Permanente killed my son

Published Friday, January 25, 2019 #

Kaiser Permanente killed my son.

Brennen was a vibrant, smart, talented and motivated college student. But he was not acting like himself. “Whatever it is, we can handle it,” I assured him. He told me he was struggling with a new addiction to cocaine.

Brennen completed a 51-minute required phone intake to access Kaiser’s mental health and addiction services. Unfortunately, their first available in-person intake appointment wasn’t for 29 days. Brennen phoned Kaiser multiple times, and his father even made a desperate call to explain that his son was living in agony and needed an appointment as soon as possible. He was told no appointment was available.

We called every single day. We were put on a waiting list and were told we would get in if there were any cancellations, but we never got in.

Five days before his appointment, Brennen and I were sitting together on our front porch. He looked tired; his eyes were weary. I took his face in my hands and told him everything would be OK. He assured me he was just tired and would go to bed as soon as he finished texting his girlfriend.

But the next day, Brennen drove to a pawn shop and legally bought a 12-gauge shotgun in less than five minutes. Within the next hour, my beautiful son lay dead in the forest.

It was easier to get a gun than to access Kaiser mental health care.

I had the best insurance Kaiser could offer, and I thought they would be able to help my son. There’s nothing I can do to help him now.

Rachel
Portland

I have begged for help

Published Sunday, January 20, 2019 #

I have been experiencing PPD symptoms since my first born. It takes a month before they can see me. I asked for a referral for a therapist who could see me more consistently And they offered me a cancelled appointment the next day that I can never make due to having 2 under 2. I have begged for help and they won’t give me an appointment for over a month. I had to call the crisis line yesterday.

I have been experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression since my first child was born. It takes a month before anyone at Kaiser can see me. I asked for a referral to a therapist who could see me more consistently and was offered me a cancelled appointment the next day, which I couldn’t make because I have two small children. I have begged for help and they won’t give me an appointment for over a month. I had to call the crisis line yesterday.

Susie
Antioch

I need the emotional support from a counselor

Published Saturday, January 19, 2019 #

I have multiple medical problems that are disabling. The time I spend with my counselor at Kaiser usually is to try to figure out how to handle my medical conditions and coordinate my medical care in the best way possible. It probably brings down my overall health care cost to Kaiser to have me work things out with my counselor.

You would think that Kaiser would be supportive of my receiving counseling. Guess how long my wait is between my last appointment and my next appointment? NINE weeks.

Having serious medical problems, I also need the emotional support of a counselor. I feel alone, left to deal with multiple medical conditions all on my own for weeks on end.

Kaiser needs to fix this problem with its overloading the caseloads of its mental health providers. It needs to allow Kaiser mental health workers an environment so that they can provide timely, compassionate and effective care.

I have multiple medical problems that are disabling. I need the emotional support of a counselor. The time I spend with my counselor at Kaiser usually is to try to figure out how to handle my medical conditions and coordinate my medical care in the best way possible. I feel alone, left to deal with multiple medical conditions all on my own for weeks on end. Guess how long my wait is between my last appointment and my next appointment? Nine weeks.

Laurie
Santa Rosa

What’s the point of paying for medical insurance

Published Friday, January 18, 2019 #

My experience I have had with Kaiser’s mental heath services has been terrible from the start. It can take anywhere from three months to get care for mental illnesses, and sometimes the appointments will be cancelled at the last moment and you have to wait another three months to get seen. I’ve taken to seeking my mental health counseling at my university, as they have better care and available counselors when I need immediate help. What’s the point of paying for medical insurance if they don’t take care of all your medical needs in a timely matter?

Leah
Fontana

I quit Kaiser after 30 years

Published Thursday, January 17, 2019 #

Simply stated, I quit Kaiser after 30 years as a patient because of their extremely poor care of mental health patients. Kaiser systemically flawed in their lack of commitment to their patients’ best interests. I gave them 30 years to improve their mental health services. They did not.

Jim
Folsom

This situation has damaged my mental health

Published Wednesday, January 16, 2019 #

Kaiser psychiatry has been denying me decent care for many years. The wait time for an appointment is at least a month. By the time I get in to see a therapist, I’ve already muddled through the problem I made the appointment for. What good is it if I can’t even get help when I need it? It’s like waiting a few months to treat a broken bone until it’s already healed improperly on its own. I’ve been repeatedly pushed toward group therapy against my will when I really needed to see a therapist one-on-one. I’ve opted to just keep things bottled up rather than talk about very personal things in front of total strangers. I’ve frequently felt like my privacy was under attack at Kaiser. This mistreatment has created a very unhealthy situation for me and further damaged my mental health.

Kayla
Roseville

I had a relapse of an emotional breakdown

Published Tuesday, January 15, 2019 #

I had a relapse of an emotional breakdown I’d experienced following the death of my husband several years ago. While Kaiser was quick to prescribe antidepressants, I was told that the wait to see a therapist was averaging two and a half months. That was in October. I had my first visit on December 7, and was told the next one would be February 18. I cannot afford outside therapy. This is simply unacceptable, and my view of Kaiser, which had been good, has declined radically.

Linda
Pasadena

More trouble than it was helpful

Published Monday, January 14, 2019 #

This system has been broken for years… When one of my kids needed someone to talk to, we waited months for an appointment. She was seen a few time, but that psychologist was so overbooked we had to see someone else. This change in care was difficult for a child. The appointments were so far apart because of a lack of availability that it became more trouble than it was helpful. I’m glad that she didn’t have anything more significant that needed treatment, because she would have suffered much more.

Jessica
Ontario

Having no real mental healthcare

Published Sunday, January 13, 2019 #

I’m a therapist in private practice and hear from patients all the time that having Kaiser basically equals having no real mental health care. When clients ask my opinion on insurance companies when they change jobs or insurance, I tend to advise against Kaiser becuase of its shameful track record the fact that it would rather pay fines than provide adequate mental healthcare. No out-of-network benefits, either. Shameful!

Renee

My mental health does not take priority at Kaiser

Published Saturday, January 12, 2019 #

I reached out to Kaiser over a month ago due to my high anxiety and newly formed depression. I requested a therapist, and they offered me a life skills course, which was a couple weeks out. I attended one class, and knew it wasn’t for me. When I called back to explain I needed more individualized attention, the intake person stated I would need to continue to attend the unuseful classes while she searched for a therapist. Since I am a school teacher, there is one hour of availability per day that I could potentially attend, but it is completely booked because they only serve until 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Now I have to find my own therapist to “get a leg up on the process.” My mental health does not take priority in Kaiser, and it shows.

Kelly
Modesto

Six weeks to start a grief group

Published Friday, January 11, 2019 #

When my grandfather died, Kaiser wanted me to wait six weeks to start a grief group, and even longer to see someone individually. Our family has a history of depression and I’ve done well to keep healthy, but knew my limits and explained I’d be well depressed by then. I paid out-of-pocket to see someone sooner, and I’ve never sought counseling services through Kaiser again.

Celia
San Diego

I felt completely uncared for

Published Thursday, January 10, 2019 #

I told my doctor I had a longstanding battle with major depression and asked to see an individual therapist because I often feel suicidal during the winter. She told me that I would likely never be seen because Kaiser is understaffed, and there were just too many people with ”more serious conditions” than me, but I could try group therapy. I would have to look online, though, to figure out the details. I’ve been paying out-of-pocket for individual therapy since. Not only is this gross negligence, but I felt completely uncared for. I was shocked that even Kaiser employees are telling patients that they will not be seen the way that they would prefer, and in some cases, need.

Katherine
Oakland

My visits were six to eight weeks apart

Published Wednesday, January 9, 2019 #

I’m a patient who went to get help with depression brought on by life-long medical problems. My therapist was good, but my visits were six to eight weeks apart, and this schedule didn’t help with my problems. I need a therapist to talk though my problems and keep my depression under control. We are told to find help if we are depressed or feeling sad for long periods of time, but the truth is there is very limited help when you need it.

April
Bellflower

Kaiser made my journey more painful

Published Tuesday, January 8, 2019 #

I am a 35-year-old mental health professional, and a long-time Kaiser member. In 2016, when I experienced my own mental health crisis, I found myself going to battle every time I tried to seek support from Kaiser. I have so many experiences I could share — from waiting an hour and a half to speak to someone after walking into the clinic and asking for a crisis appointment; to begging for some individual therapy, only to be farmed out to groups that weren’t helpful; to actually going to the hospital with suicidal ideation three times before I was finally hospitalized. I begged them for help in the emergency room, my wife begged them to help me keep myself safe, and they sent me home three times with more benzodiazepines. After two years of continuous self-advocacy, and support from my family and friends, I have climbed my way back to feeling healthy. Kaiser did not help me. They placed obstacle after obstacle, offered useless ideas, and said “sorry” countless times for the limitations of their psychiatric support. I would even say that Kaiser not only did not help me — they made my journey longer and more painful than it had to be.

Marshall
Richmond

They said someone would check for cancellations and call me back

Published Monday, January 7, 2019 #

I have a history of depression and anxiety and called Kaiser in October to schedule an appointment. I was told I couldn’t be seen until January 17. My mother was diagnosed with cancer shortly after, and my anxiety worsened. I called Kaiser several times and explained why I needed more immediate care. They said someone would check for cancellations and call me back. But nobody did. I have to wait another month to be seen, and afraid that I be able to get the consistent care I need. This is absurd.

Jann
Santa Ana

My son has significant anxiety problems

Published Sunday, January 6, 2019 #

My son has significant anxiety problems. When we were scheduling his appointments with his psychologist (who was excellent, by the way), we were told that even though my son had had suicidal thoughts, without actual suicidal ideation, he could only come every other week. And if he had suicide ideation? Once a week. For someone actively planning a suicide? This is NOT sufficient care.

Jennie
Oakland

Kaiser is stingy about patients mental health

Published Saturday, January 5, 2019 #

Every time I called Kaiser, I was told that I could not receive regular mental health treatment outside of care for an emergency psychiatric event. How is an insurance company so focused on patients “thriving” so incredibly stingy when it comes to patients’ mental health? I tell everyone I know who is considering Kaiser to think twice before choosing this insurance if they ever need therapy or counseling.

Laura
Oakland

I have acute grief and need to talk to my therapist

Published Friday, January 4, 2019 #

I have acute grief and need to talk to my therapist, but it is nearly impossible to get an appointment. It is so frustrating to wait on hold for nearly an hour just to find out there are no available appointments for two months. I feel as though the time my appointment gets here, it will be too late. What I need is therapy now, while I am going through this. And more importantly I need a therapist who has a manageable workload and can give their undivided attention. There are mental illnesses that can not wait, and I would hope Kaiser isn’t willing gamble with patients’ lives in order to save a few dollars.

Wendy
Ontario

My son died by suicide

Published Thursday, January 3, 2019 #

My son Kyle received care from Kaiser for anxiety and depression beginning October 2017. At the intake, he told the therapist that he had thought of ending his life within the last two weeks. She then proceeded to schedule an appointment for six weeks later. I was appalled at this. Knowing that he was in crisis didn’t matter. He then saw his therapist only about once a month after that. He was also referred to a psychiatrist in the Diamond Bar office, but Kyle also came home from his therapy sessions feeling even worse. He was made to feel so bad about himself. It took days to recover after each visit. In March of 2018, Kyle died by suicide. I believe that the lack of care that Kaiser gives to their patients, and specifically the uncaring nature of my son’s Kaiser psychiatrist, were instrumental in this tragic event.

Stephanie
Diamond Bar

Nine months to get into treatment

Published Wednesday, January 2, 2019 #

I have been trying for NINE MONTHS to get my son, who has been diagnosed with ADHD at Kaiser, into treatment for his learning differences. They have failed to return my phone calls, scheduled and canceled appointments, made me go back and do a whole new intake process for him (a two-hour appointment) because the original referring doctor had left. I finally had an appointment to get him referred. It took weeks — then at noon the day before the appointment, the doctor canceled for “educational leave” that day!!! And the person who called to tell me it was canceled said, “Sorry, I can’t schedule a new appointment — talk to triage,”and triage said, “Sorry, I can’t book a new appointment — he is a new patient.” Then they called back two days later and offered an appointment the day after Christmas. All just to get him into a treatment for a disorder he has already been diagnosed with, because a referring physician needs to sign him into the group. I have talked to people all the way up the chain of command and get no help. Everyone at the front lines feels just awful and wishes they could help me. The leadership betrays their patients!

Megan
San Francisco

I stopped trying to access mental health with Kaiser

Published Tuesday, January 1, 2019 #

In August 2017 I was new to Kaiser and could feel a depressive episode coming on. I spent weeks trying to arrange therapy through Kaiser, something I have done before without trouble with multiple insurers in multiple states. It took me two weeks just to get to intake, since the phone line was only available during the workweek and would be busy all through lunch. I would ask for call-backs at noon and get callbacks at 11:30, when I was still at work and couldn’t take a call. After four weeks I was able to meet with a therapist, who told me that her techniques were only effective for those with mild or moderate depression and who had never heard of my hormonal medications, despite 20 years of practice. She also told me that despite 20 years of practice in SF, she had never seen a transgender patient on an ongoing basis. Even though I was not seeking a gender therapist, my trans status led her to discourage me from from working with her. After that not working out, I got Magellan to give me a list of names – four of them had no hours that worked for me, and four of them said that they couldn’t support me once I mentioned being transgender. At this point it was six weeks since I had started seeking therapy, and my depression was causing problems at work. I stopped trying to access mental health care through Kaiser and was able to find an out-of-network therapist who was a good fit in less than a week. In terms of accessing ongoing therapy, Kaiser is so bad that I might as well not be insured at all.

Alice
Oakland

 

I was told I had to try harder

Published Monday, December 31, 2018 #

After requesting a referral to see a therapist, I was referred to someone who told me that I would feel better if i just “tried harder” and “changed my diet.” At this time I was exercising regularly and eating a normal diet. I also was prescribed an antidepressant over the phone by another clinician. She told me that it would probably give me panic attacks, but but I’d just have to deal with them if I wanted to get better. I tried the medicine and it made me extremely depressed and even suicidal. Luckily I had support in my family, but the clinician did nothing to check in on me. Eventually I sought care out of Kaiser and have to pay out-of-pocket to receive competent care.

Delia
Oakland

This is bad patient care

Published Sunday, December 30, 2018 #

My daughter was  a victim of the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting, and she couldn’t get the therapy she needed from her therapist because her therapist didn’t have appointments for a month, sometimes two months. This is bad patient care. Kaiser needs to get their patients in and seen on a regular basis, not a month or two later.

Marie
Santa Rosa

Kaiser patient since birth

Published Saturday, December 29, 2018 #

I have been a Kaiser patient since birth. My father was a Kaiser doctor for 25 years. The care that I have received has always been good EXCEPT for mental health care. I was diagnosed with severe depression 20 years ago, and the care was barley adequate back then. Now it is a nightmare. Long, long waits for any kind of appointment. Your only option for crisis care is the ER, which is also very understaffed, or an outside agency that generally doesn’t want to help when they find out that you have insurance. You can never get anyone on the phone. My doctor is always way too rushed and stressed to do anything for me. There are no therapeutic services available after 5pm. It seems to me that the people who actually care about patients don’t last very long. Its a horrible nightmare that people in with mental health issues can not handle. Remember Barbara Ragan because I could well be next if things don’t improve.

Virgil
Santa Rosa

I was shot at the Route 91 Harvest Festival

Published Friday, December 28, 2018 #

I was shot at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017. Since then, I’ve needed a large amount of support from various types of therapists. Between waiting lists, not enough appointment openings, and time restrictions, I’ve had many appointments denied to me. And when I started work, forget it. I’ve had to take numerous hours off to make Kaiser’s extremely tight schedule work with mine. I have gone above and beyond to be flexible with Kaiser; however, I don’t receive the same respect back. There are simply not enough therapists to maximize my needs. Most of their therapists are great and care about their patients, but the system is flawed. I would like to receive better, more efficient healthcare considering the high premiums.

Kortney
Culver Marina

Always scheduled eight weeks out

Published Thursday, December 27, 2018 #

I was always being scheduled eight weeks out. At the beginning of this year, I was often the last patient of the day. Come appointment da,y I would receive a call that my therapist left early and would have to reschedule – in another eight weeks. This happened three consecutive appointments. I finally gave up trying and went six months without attempting to schedule. Then I found myself in crisis, so I called for an appointment. No surprise here — it was eight weeks out. Even in crisis I couldn’t be seen sooner. The best they had for me was a referral to an outside contracted psychiatrist two weeks out while I remained on the waitlist in Kaiser. It’s bad enough my closest facility is 15 miles away, but the waiting forever is unreasonable.

Amber
Corona

I witnessed a murder and was in crisis

Published Wednesday, December 26, 2018 #

I witnessed a murder and was in crisis. My husband tried for days to get me into therapy. There was finally a cancellation and I received my intake. At my intake, I was told it would be six weeks until I would be seen again. I ended up paying cash to go outside Kaiser. Thank God I did. Not sure I would still be alive still due to depression and PTSD.

Anonymous
San Bernardino

Diagnosis of severe depression and anxiety

Published Tuesday, December 25, 2018 #

I went into preterm labor and lost my baby in a very traumatic ER experience. Although I had a diagnosis of severe depression/anxiety, I was unable to see my therapist but once every other month. Then, out of nowhere, I was told that Kaiser’s policies had changed, and my psychiatrist was placing me back to work before I was fully treated and before my therapy groups had fully run their course. This came as a huge shock as I was still in need of further therapy.

Monica
Fontana

Easier to get alcohol than therapy

Published Monday, December 24, 2018 #

Ten years ago I tried multiple times to get therapy for depression, and was told it would be a one- to two-month wait. It’s a lot easier to get alcohol than therapy, and it works better in the short term, anyway. I don’t blame anyone else for my mistakes, but it seems short-sighted for Kaiser to pay a fortune now to fix my liver rather than shelling out for a few therapy sessions back then. Chemical dependency services have been amazingly good, but they should be a last resort. You wouldn’t wait for someone to have a stroke before treating high blood pressure – don’t ignore people with mental health issues until it’s too late.

Jeff
San Jose

At times I feel suicide is inevitable

Published Sunday, December 23, 2018 #

I grew up in foster care and now I’m a parent of three autistic children. I need help. At times I feel that suicide is inevitable. I have been waiting to talk to someone  It took me two months just to obtain an intake appointment. I was given an option to outsource to a third party for my first physiological appointment, but I wanted all my notes to stay in-house, so I waited another three months. The week of my appointment. they called to cancel. I was upset, so said they managed to get me in a week later. When I finally sat down to talk, I was rushed. My appt was only 20 minutes long. I was left feeling more empty and troubled, that was in November. I was then given a appointment for March 2! Kaiser doesn’t care. I feel bad for those who like myself were rushed out. Kaiser fails to live up to its mission statement “to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.” Fraud!

Anne
Culver City

Couldn’t get in for three or four months

Published Saturday, December 22, 2018 #

I have a history of severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD. After having been on one antidepressant for several years, it stopped working. I called my Kaiser psychiatrist’s office to make an appointment, and they told me I couldn’t get in for three to four months! I made the appointment, and in the meantime the psychiatrist’s assistant called me, and without asking about my symptoms or getting much detail, offered to switch my antidepressant before my office visit. I was NOT comfortable with this, knowing that switching medications could make me suicidal and I wouldn’t be able to see the psychiatrist for several months. I ended up going out-of-network and paying out-of-pocket for a non-Kaiser psychiatrist who actually had time to listen to my symptoms and history before adjusting my medications. In addition to my non-Kaiser psychiatrist, I also see an out-of-network therapist every week to work on my PTSD. I pay for this out-of-pocket, but it seemed like the only option since Kaiser said I could only see a therapist about once a month. I’m lucky that I can afford to pay for these other providers, but I shouldn’t have to! I’m so angry that Kaiser won’t provide me with the medical care I need.

Lauren
Lancaster

Getting worse NOT better

Published Friday, December 21, 2018 #

I’m Robert “Priest” Morgan. During the North Bay Wildfires, I was one of four firefighters who saved 44 Journey’s End Homes, one grandma left to die in her wheelchair, and Kaiser’s hospital campus from burning to the ground. I have Kaiser’s Senior Advantage Plus Medical Coverage. When the Camp Fire began and we were breathing their smoke, my PTSD, for which I was getting counseling, became so severe I had to get away. I went to the Midwest’s frozen tundra to get away. I intended to continue my PTSD counseling, but Kaiser is refusing to cover my counseling up here. I left California to save myself and my life – I left in an emergency and I see my being here as an emergency – yet Kaiser won’t even return my calls as they promised. I’m getting worse, NOT better. I am at a loss as to what to do next. Kaiser generates $73 billion dollars annually and they refuse to help me! I initiated the response that saved their hospital, as wells as the lives of many staff and patients. Now I need a little help from Kaiser, and they’re turning the other way, as if I don’t matter. Six months after the fire, Kaiser diagnosed me with third stage liver disease – add that to my severe PTSD and I’m not doing so well. They have demonstrated quite clearly they could not care less.

Robert
Santa Rosa

Shocked and disheartened

Published Thursday, December 20, 2018 #

I was a little shocked and disheartened. Not two minutes after I told my provider that I had been having dark, suicidal thoughts, she ended the appointment and said she would like to schedule a phone appointment with me in two months. Two months! I need someone I can see on a regular basis to keep me on track and help me get a handle on my mental health. Not a phone appointment a few times a year. Very disappointing. Shameful.

Amber
San Jose

System takes a toll on patients AND therapists

Published Wednesday, December 19, 2018 #

I have provided mental health services to Kaiser clinicians from around the Bay Area who were experiencing stress, burnout, and depression due to the extreme overload of clients they were expected to carry, and their inability to provide adequate services to meet clients’ needs. I have seen clinicians whose immune systems were attacking their bodies due to extreme stress; who had nightmares about having a client emergency they couldn’t respond to; and who found themselves unable to leave work behind during evenings and weekends because they were so worried about the clients they were unable to see in a timely fashion. This system takes its toll on the health of clients AND therapists, and is not meeting the standard of treatment for clients’ needs. Kaiser therapists care but they are being forced by the system to take on far more cases than they can handle, leaving them in an ethical bind and their clients in the lurch when it comes to their mental health needs.

Dr. A
Various Locations