4 Best Health Insurance Companies of 2024

Kaiser Permanente is the best overall health insurance company because it has very high customer satisfaction ratings.

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Best health insurance companies

Average rates are for a 40-year-old buying a Silver plan.

The best health insurance companies are Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), UnitedHealthcare (UHC) and Aetna. These companies offer customers the highest levels of quality and service.

ValuePenguin's editors compared the country's largest health insurance companies based on independent rankings for:

  • Quality of medical care
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Affordability
  • Rate of complaints

ValuePenguin doesn't make money by promoting any specific companies. Instead, our analysis is to help you comparison shop.

The best companies get four stars or more from ValuePenguin editors. Avoid choosing a company with fewer than three stars because you could have problems with bad service and delayed claims processing. See the full methodology.

Best overall health insurance: Kaiser Permanente

Editor rating
Rating on HealthCare.gov 4.9 out of 5
NCQA quality rating 4.2 out of 5
Average cost $481/month

Why Kaiser Permanente is great

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Consistently high ratings for customer satisfaction
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Streamlined access to high-quality medical care

Alternative to Kaiser Permanente

If having access to a wide selection of doctors is important to you, consider Blue Cross Blue Shield, which has the largest network of doctors in the country.

  • Great customer satisfaction: Kaiser Permanente consistently ranks as having the most satisfied customers. This means you're likely to have great service and be satisfied with your health insurance.
  • Easy integration between insurance and medical care: Kaiser health insurance is paired with Kaiser's medical facilities. This lets you manage your insurance and medical appointments through the same online portal, a perk that's unique to Kaiser. Plus, getting medical care is also more streamlined because your doctors are often in the same building, and you'll be directed to specialists without having to coordinate things yourself.
  • Low rate of claim denials: Kaiser Permanente is the best major insurance company for paying its medical bills, with less than half as many claim denials as average.
  • Limited network of doctors: In most cases, you can only use Kaiser health insurance at Kaiser's medical offices. However, you can go outside the network for urgent or emergency care.
  • Few plan choices: Most of Kaiser's plans are HMOs, which means you won't have coverage for out-of-network doctors, and you'll need a referral before seeing a specialist.
Kaiser Permanente availability map

Kaiser Permanente sells insurance in eight states — California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia and Washington — and Washington, D.C.

Even though it's not available in many places, it's still one of the largest health insurance companies in the U.S. because it's popular in the places where it is available.

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Editor rating
Rating on HealthCare.gov 3.7 out of 5
NCQA quality rating 3.6 out of 5
Average cost $604/month

Why Blue Cross is great

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Has the most flexibility about your doctors
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Well-rated plans with lots of perks

Alternative to Blue Cross Blue Shield

If you're looking for a lower-cost option, consider Aetna, which costs $100 less per month, on average. But you'll have a smaller network of doctors and fewer perks.

  • Widely accepted: The Blue Cross Blue Shield network includes 90% of the country's doctors and hospitals, giving you the most flexibility about where you get medical care. This means you'll usually be able to go to a broad selection of doctors, even though the exact network of each plan varies.
  • High quality and popular: BCBS gets high ratings because of its strong customer satisfaction, earning a near-perfect score when HealthCare.gov asked members about their experience. It's also the most popular health insurance company in most states.
  • Variety of plan types: BCBS offers a wide range of plan options and types including HMOs, PPOs and EPOs. These choices can help you get the best type of health coverage to meet your needs.
  • Can be more expensive: Generally, BCBS is not a good choice if you're on a tight budget. Blue Cross Blue Shield is more expensive than average in about three-quarters of the country. But you're usually getting more for your money because plans often include extras like discounts on eyeglasses, prescriptions and healthy living products.
  • Quality varies by location: Blue Cross companies operate independently in each state or region. That's why plan quality can be very high in some places or below-average in others. This is different from other companies, which usually have central management.
Blue Cross Blue Shield availability map

Blue Cross Blue Shield is available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

However, depending on which BCBS subsidiary operates in your state, the company could be called Florida Blue, Empire Blue Cross, Anthem or another name.

Best health insurance for the self-employed: UnitedHealthcare

Editor rating
Rating on HealthCare.gov 3.5 out of 5
NCQA quality rating 3.5 out of 5
Average cost $576/month

Why UnitedHealthcare is great

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Many plan options including health, dental and vision
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Highly rated mobile app for managing your health needs

Alternative to UnitedHealthcare

Aetna costs less than UnitedHealthcare and also has a good mobile app. But its resources and tools are more basic.

  • Many included extras: Many UHC plans include benefits such as free primary care, low-cost prescriptions, free insulin and access to wellness programs.

  • Variety of plan options, including dental and vision: In addition to having a wide variety of health insurance plans, you can add on coverage for dental, vision and disability. This lets you customize and combine coverage, which is a nice perk when you're self-employed.
  • Top-rated mobile app: UHC's mobile app gives you valuable tools to streamline coverage, save time and reduce hassle, which is useful if you work for yourself or are busy. With the app, you can have telehealth appointments, estimate procedure costs, compare doctors and manage your plan.
  • Costs vary: UHC is cheaper than average in many of the states where it's available. However, sometimes rates can be very high. For example, in New York, UnitedHealthcare costs 71% more than average.
  • High rate of claim denials: UnitedHealthcare often denies medical claims. This means you could have the extra hassle of resubmitting paperwork, or you may have to file an appeal to get UHC to pay your medical bills.

Best health insurance for young adults: Aetna

Editor rating
Rating on HealthCare.gov 3 out of 5
NCQA quality rating 3.5 out of 5
Average cost $502/month

Why Aetna is great

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Low monthly rates can save you money
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Low-cost prescriptions and routine care

Alternatives to Aetna

If you expect to need ongoing medical care, it's usually worth it to pay more for a plan from Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield or UnitedHealthcare, which have better customer satisfaction.

  • Cheap prices: Aetna health insurance costs less than average in all of the states where it's available. This makes Aetna a good choice for those who are young and healthy and looking for the best affordable health insurance.
  • Convenient for routine medical care: Most plans give you cheap, or sometimes free, appointments for routine health issues at CVS MinuteClinics. For young adults, this can make it easy to get care whether you're at college, in your hometown or away for an internship.
  • Average ratings: Aetna is not rated as highly as other top health insurance companies. So it may not be a good choice if you have ongoing medical conditions or need an expensive health procedure.

Worst health insurance companies

Oscar is the worst health insurance company of 2024 because of its low HealthCare.gov rating.

Oscar logo
Ambetter logo
Molina logo

Oscar's health insurance plans have a low average rating on HealthCare.gov, with poor ratings for medical care. In addition, although it used to offer cheap health insurance, its prices have risen and are now more expensive than average in 2024.

Ambetter and its partner company, Celtic Insurance, usually have somewhat low ratings on HealthCare.gov. In particular, Ambetter scores very low on medical care. However, it somewhat makes up for this with cheap rates and above-average member experience ratings.

Molina has an average rating of three out of five stars on HealthCare.gov. Its rating for medical care is even lower at just 2.5 stars. Even though Molina tends to be cheap in the states where plans are available, most people will get better insurance with an affordable plan from one of the best health insurance companies.

Find the best health insurance in your state

Health insurance company ratings

Kaiser Permanente is the top-rated health insurance company in the U.S. Good insurance companies include Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Aetna and Cigna. The worst-rated health insurance companies are Oscar, Molina and Ambetter.

Overall, these ratings can give you a big-picture snapshot of which health insurance companies are the best, which are in the middle of the pack and which you should avoid.

Best health insurance companies

Editor's rating
Monthly cost
Kaiser Permanente
Blue Cross Blue Shield
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Average monthly cost for a 40-year-old buying a Silver health insurance plan.

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Keep in mind that these ratings reflect each company's performance on the national level. Quality scores can vary from state to state. It's a good idea to check the state-specific ratings for the companies you're considering.

How to choose the best health insurance

When choosing health insurance, look at your costs for the plan, how much you expect to spend on doctors and prescriptions, as well as customer reviews and ratings in your state.

The best health insurance plan isn't always the cheapest you can find. Compare your options by coverage, extra perks and flexibility.

  • What's the best coverage level for you? Your medical needs usually determine the best level of coverage. Silver plans are a good middle ground for most people. But if you expect to need expensive medical care or prescriptions, it's often worth it to get a Gold plan with better coverage. By paying more each month, you'll pay less at the doctor. On the other hand, if you're young and healthy, a Bronze plan can be a good way to save money and still have coverage if you get very sick.
  • Do company extras help you save money? More expensive health insurance companies may give extra benefits like gym memberships, discounts and even cash rewards for healthy activities like exercising and checkups. Consider the value of these extras when comparing plans.
  • How important is plan flexibility? For some people, it may be worth it to pay more for a plan that gives you more flexibility about which doctors you can use. Larger companies tend to have bigger networks of doctors than smaller companies. Also, PPO plans offer greater flexibility compared to HMO plans, but you have to pay considerably more for them.

Frequently asked questions

Which health insurance company is the best?

The best overall health insurance company is Kaiser Permanente because its plans are cheap and highly rated. If you can't get Kaiser, Blue Cross Blue Shield is also a good health insurance company that offers more flexibility in its coverage.

How do I pick the best health insurance plan?

First, choose a well-rated company that sells plans in your area. Then, compare plans to match the level of medical coverage to the amount of medical care you expect to need. A good rule of thumb is that a Bronze plan is a good choice for someone young and healthy. Silver is a middle ground that's good for most people. If you expect to need a lot of medical care, a Gold-tier plan could help you save money on health care.

Which health insurance company has the highest customer satisfaction?

Kaiser Permanente is almost always ranked as having the highest customer satisfaction, and it especially stands out for having the best Medicare Advantage plans. However, Kaiser Permanente is only available in eight states and Washington, D.C.

Methodology and data sources

ValuePenguin evaluated the largest health insurance companies across the following rankings:

  • HealthCare.gov star ratings: HealthCare.gov assigns plans a score between one and five that reflects care quality and customer satisfaction. We averaged the overall performance rating of each state and company where data was available.
  • NCQA star ratings: The overall performance ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) compare company performance on customer satisfaction, quality of medical care, preventive care and quality scoring from the NCQA accreditation process. Our averages are calculated for available state ratings of private, commercial health insurance companies.
  • AM Best: We also considered the financial health of companies. AM Best rankings were averaged based on each subsidiary's ability to pay medical claims. AM Best is a credit rating agency that gives health insurance companies a financial health score. A++ or "superior" is the top grade available. Usually, any company above A- is in an above-average financial situation.
  • NAIC complaint index: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index calculates if a company received fewer complaints than a typical company of its size. The ratio of complaints was calculated as a weighted average of all subsidiaries by total annual rates.

The costs of health insurance plans use data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about private health insurance plans sold on HealthCare.gov as well as rates collected from state marketplaces. Costs are for a 40-year-old choosing a Silver health insurance plan.

Information on claim denials is from the CMS coverage transparency data for individual qualified health plans sold on the marketplace.

Editorial note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.