The four best health insurance companies are Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna. These companies offer customers the highest levels of quality and service.
Best health insurance companies
ValuePenguin's editors compared the country's largest health insurance companies based on independent rankings for:
- Quality of medical care
- Customer satisfaction
- Rate of complaints
This analysis is to help you comparison shop. ValuePenguin doesn't make money by promoting any specific companies.
The best companies have 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. Learn more about our data and methodology.
Best overall health insurance: Kaiser Permanente
Monthly cost: $481 ?
Quality score: 4.9/5
Why it's great
- Strong customer satisfaction
- Access to high-quality medical care
Kaiser Permanente's consistently high ratings mean you're likely to be satisfied with your health insurance, making it a good choice if plans are available in your area.
- How are Kaiser's ratings? Kaiser Permanente consistently ranks as having the most satisfied customers. The company stands out for its good customer service and streamlined access to high-quality medical care.
- What doctors can you use? Kaiser health insurance is paired with Kaiser's medical facilities. This is helpful because you can manage your insurance and medical appointments through the same online portal. The downside is that plans have a limited network of doctors and hospitals. You'll usually only have coverage when you go to a Kaiser facility (except during emergencies).
- Where is Kaiser available? Kaiser Permanente sells insurance in eight states — California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia and Washington — and Washington, D.C.
Popular health insurance company: Blue Cross Blue Shield
Monthly cost: $604 ?
Quality score: 3.7/5
Why it's great
- Well-rated plans with lots of perks
- Has the most flexibility for where you get medical care
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) has high-quality health insurance and is the most popular health insurance company in the country.
- What types of health insurance are available? BCBS offers a wide range of plan options and types including HMOs, EPOs and PPOs. These choices can help you get the best type of health coverage to meet your needs.
- What doctors can you use? Blue Cross is also good if you want flexibility with where you get your medical care. The BCBS network includes 90% of the country's doctors and hospitals. Even though the exact network of each plan varies, you'll likely have a wide selection of doctors that are covered.
- What are the downsides of BCBS? Plans are typically more expensive than similar coverage from other companies. Blue Cross is not a good choice if affordability is your top concern.
Best health insurance for the self-employed: UnitedHealthcare
Monthly cost: $576 ?
Quality score: 3.5/5
Why it's great
- Many plan options including health, dental and vision
- Mobile app has helpful tools for managing health needs
UnitedHealthcare (UHC) offers good-quality health insurance plans, and the company stands out for its broad range of services, including several add-on benefits.
- What kind of coverage can you get? Many UHC plans include benefits such as free primary care, low-cost prescriptions and access to wellness programs. And you can add on coverage for dental, vision and disability.
- What makes the UHC mobile app great? With the app, you can have telehealth appointments, estimate procedure costs, compare doctors and manage your plan, making it easier to get the most out of your policy. If you work for yourself, this can be a valuable way to streamline coverage, save time and reduce hassle.
- What is the downside of UHC? UHC health insurance policies can be more expensive than average, and interacting with the company can be frustrating, according to comments on the Better Business Bureau.
Best health insurance for young adults: Aetna
Monthly cost: $502 ?
Quality score: 3/5
Why it's great
- Cheaper monthly rates can save you money
- Affordable routine care and generic prescriptions
Aetna health insurance plans have average ratings and are cheaper than plans from other companies. This makes Aetna the most affordable health insurance company for those who are young and healthy.
- What extra benefits can you get? Many plans let you earn rewards or gift cards for healthy activities when you use the Attain by Aetna app on an Apple Watch or Fitbit.
- How can you get cheap medical care? Aetna also offers free or low-cost access to CVS minute clinics, which are located inside CVS or Target retail locations. This can make it easy for you to access in-network care across multiple locations such as a hometown, college town or internship location.
- What should you watch out for? Aetna has more complaints than our other top health care options, and plans can have high deductibles. 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.
Ambetter and its partner company, Celtic Insurance, usually have somewhat low ratings on HealthCare.gov. In particular, it scores very low on medical care. However, it somewhat makes up for this with cheap rates and above-average member experience ratings.
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., according to available state data from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Good insurance companies include Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Aetna and Cigna. The worst-rated health insurance companies are Oscar and Ambetter.
Overall, these performance 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
|Blue Cross Blue Shield
|Aetna (CVS Health)
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 on your radar when you shop for health insurance.
How to choose the best health insurance company
When choosing a health insurance company, you should evaluate the costs for both the plan and your medical care, as well as customer reviews.
Policy costs, details and company benefits
Affordability is the most important factor to consider when shopping for health insurance. That's because quotes and rates vary widely between insurance companies. Remember that the cheaper option isn't always the best. More expensive companies also may offer extra benefits like online member portals or gym memberships.
You should consider the trade-off between cost and flexibility when it comes to choosing the doctor you want. 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 more for them.
Finally, besides the monthly price you pay, you should carefully review the deductibles and copays or coinsurance before choosing a policy. These can vary greatly both by insurance company and by plan. By selecting a plan with a deductible and coinsurance that fits your needs, you can save yourself money.
When evaluating insurance companies, you should also consider the experience of other customers as a way to help predict if you'll have problems with the insurance plan. Through metrics like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index and J.D. Power's customer satisfaction scores, you can better understand how that health insurance company treats its customers.
You should check reviews about the claims process and the ease with which customers can get their claims filed. Some companies tend to have cheaper health insurance but poor customer service. This is important to consider because a bad claims processing experience can lead to headaches and a slower payout.
Understanding the data behind health insurance ratings
In the health insurance industry, a variety of rating agencies evaluate health insurance companies every year based on factors that include customer reviews, customer complaints and financial strength. You can use these metrics to evaluate companies and choose the best insurance for you. The most common third-party ratings for insurance companies include:
- National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) health insurance plan ratings: NCQA's overall performance rankings of zero to five combine measurements of customer satisfaction, clinical measures such as preventive care, and quality scoring from the NCQA accreditation process.
- NAIC complaint index: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index calculates the rate of company complaints against the size of each insurance company. A complaint index under 1.00 means that the company gets fewer complaints than expected for its size.
- AM Best financial strength rating: 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.
Checking company ratings and customer evaluations can help you understand what the company values and how it stacks up against its competitors. Then, you can get quotes from these companies to decide which one makes sense for your situation.
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. In addition, Blue Cross Blue Shield is a good health insurance company that offers more flexibility in its coverage and is widely available.
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. 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.
ValuePenguin evaluated 10 of 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 plan scores to arrive at a representative quality score for each company on our list.
- NCQA star ratings: Average insurance companies' performance for customer satisfaction and quality of medical care, as calculated for available state ratings of private, commercial health insurance companies.
- AM Best: Financial health ranking based on the average of each subsidiary's ability to meet its obligations.
- NAIC complaint index: Ratio of complaints calculated as a weighted average of all subsidiaries by total annual rates.
Additional details about plan performance for the worst health insurance companies, including ratings by member experience, medical care and plan administration, were collected from HealthCare.gov.
The costs of health insurance plans are based on aggregated data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about private health insurance plans sold on HealthCare.gov. Averages exclude states that use their own health insurance marketplace instead of HealthCare.gov, and 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.