The best health insurance company for you will depend on your health situation and budget. But it's not always about the price tag. Some health insurers offer cheap coverage but less-than-stellar customer service or a limited provider network.
To help you shop for the best deal, we looked through premium costs, customer service, provider networks and the financial strength of the top health insurance companies. Here's what we found.
Health insurance company ratings
The two top-rated health insurance companies are Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross Blue Shield, according to available state data from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Mid-tier insurers include Humana, Anthem, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna. The worst-rated health insurance companies are Cigna and Oscar.
Overall performance ratings can give you a big picture snapshot about which health insurance companies are the best, which are in the middle of the pack and which you should avoid.
|Kaiser Permanente||4.28 |
|Blue Cross Blue Shield (excluding Anthem)||3.62 |
|Aetna (CVS Health)||3.31 |
Find Cheap Health Insurance Policies in Your Area
Because company performance can vary by state, we recommend that those shopping for insurance on Healthcare.gov also compare star ratings of individual plans offered in your location. This will give you the best indication of which plans are high-performing and which fall short.
Note that Humana only provides health insurance through employer or group plans. This means that you may be able to get a Humana plan through your job, but plans are not available on the health insurance marketplace or directly from Humana.
Find the best health insurance in your state
Best overall health insurance: Blue Cross Blue Shield
- AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A
- NAIC complaint index 0.58 (half as many complaints as the industry average of 1.00)
- Unique value: BCBS and its many subsidiaries have the most expansive network available.
Blue Cross Blue Shield stands out for its well-rated plans, large network of providers and wide availability in all 50 states. On the other hand, plans are frequently more expensive than similar coverage from other providers.
The company offers a wide range of plan options and types including health maintenance organizations (HMOs), exclusive provider organizations (EPOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs). These choices can help you get the best level of coverage to meet your needs.
While the company has an overall low rate of complaints, the most common complaints are about product servicing and coverage denials. Customers have also reported long wait times when processing claims and trying to contact customer service.
Best health insurance for self-employed: UnitedHealthcare
- AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A+
- NAIC complaint index 1.46 (about 50% higher than the industry average of 1.00)
- Unique value: Digital tools to improve your health care experience
UnitedHealthcare (UHC) has a moderate overall star rating. However, the company stands out for its comprehensive care, including several add-on benefits and a robust app. For those who are self-employed, this can be a valuable way to streamline coverage, save time and reduce hassle.
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. Plus, the UHC mobile app lets you have telehealth appointments, estimate procedure costs, compare doctors and manage your plan, making it easier to get the most out of your policy.
However, there are some downsides. UHC health insurance policies are more expensive on average when compared to other providers. The company also has a higher frequency of complaints than is typical for an insurer of its size.
Best health insurance for young adults: Anthem
- AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A
- NAIC complaint index 1.34 (About one-third higher than the industry average of 1.00)
- Unique value: Location flexibility and cheap rates
Anthem is the best health insurance for young adults because of its low-cost coverage and variety of plan options. Plus, Anthem is a subsidiary of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which means that policyholders may have access to a large network of providers. The expansive network may help policyholders access in-network care across multiple locations such as a hometown, college town or internship location.
Anthem plans usually have lower monthly costs than other providers, making them a good deal for those who are young and healthy. However, these plans may not be a good choice for those who have ongoing medical conditions or who need significant or expensive health procedures. Anthem's claim denial rate is twice as high as the industry average. This can mean that something like a surgery can turn into a financial headache, or you could face a complicated appeals process.
Best Medicare Advantage plans: Kaiser Permanente
- AM Best Financial Strength Rating: Not rated
- NAIC complaint index 0.39 (Nearly two-thirds lower than the industry average of 1.00)
- Unique value: Access to Kaiser's medical centers and doctors
Kaiser Permanente offers top-rated individual health insurance options in eight states: California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington state, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
But the company is best-known for its Medicare Advantage policies where its streamlined health care access leads to a high quality of care. The company has consistently been the best insurer in the J.D. Power survey of Medicare Advantage customer satisfaction. This rating, combined with the high NCQA star rating, shows that the insurance company stands out for both its policies and its customer-first approach.
The downside is that enrollees have a limited provider network. Rather than having access to a wide range of medical providers, the insurer pairs its insurance with its medical facilities, making these plans less than ideal for those who prefer flexibility.
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 financial strength, customer reviews and policyholder complaints. You can use these metrics to evaluate providers and choose the best insurance company for you. The most common third-party ratings for insurance companies include:
- NCQA health insurance plan ratings: NCQA's overall performance rankings of 0 to 5 combine measurements of consumer satisfaction, clinical measures such as preventative care and quality scoring from the NCQA accreditation process.
- J.D. Power: J.D. Power is a global marketing information services company that ranks some of the best insurance companies on customer satisfaction. Its rankings give each insurer a number between 0 and 1,000 and use rating factors such as price, customer satisfaction, policy offerings and interaction.
- NAIC complaint index: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Complaint Index calculates the rate of company complaints against the size of each insurer. A complaint index under 1.00 indicates the company receives 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.
- Better Business Bureau (BBB): The BBB rating system is a grade given to a company between A+ and F, which is determined by its complaint history and how responsive the company is to complaints.
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.
How to choose the best health insurance company
When choosing a health insurance company, you should evaluate the policy costs, company features, customer reviews and provider network.
Policy costs, details and company benefits
The most important factor to consider is whether the insurer offers affordable policies that fit your needs.
The price of a health insurance policy can vary widely by insurer. This is typically because some providers offer additional benefits with their policies, such as online member portals or gym memberships.
Additionally, some policies have a wider provider network, which means your health insurance would be accepted by more doctors and medical facilities. However, policies with a bigger network or those that offer you the ability to see any doctor that you want will almost always come with higher monthly premiums.
Finally, besides the monthly premium, you should carefully review the deductibles and copays or coinsurance before choosing a policy. These values can vary greatly not only by policy but also by insurer. By selecting the plan with a deductible and coinsurance that fit your needs, you can save yourself money.
When evaluating insurers, you should also consider how other customers view the company. By collecting metrics like the NAIC complaint index and J.D. Power's customer satisfaction scores, you can better understand how that health insurance company values its policyholders.
Additionally, you should check reviews about the claims process and the ease with which consumers can get their claims filed. Some companies tend to have cheaper health insurance but will lag significantly in customer service. This is important to consider as claims processing will be integral to your overall customer experience with the health insurance company.
Frequently asked questions
Which health insurance company is the best?
Our pick for the best overall health insurance company is Blue Cross Blue Shield. It's well rated, widely available, and has a large network of providers.
How do I pick the best health insurance plan?
First, choose a well-rated company that’s operating in your area. Then, compare plans to match the coverage level to your needs. A good rule of thumb is that a Bronze plan may be a good choice for someone young and healthy. If you expect to need significant 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 perpetually ranked as having the highest customer satisfaction, and it especially stands out for its Medicare Advantage plans. However, Kaiser Permanente is only available in eight states and Washington, D.C.
ValuePenguin evaluated more than 20 of the largest health insurance companies on third-party rankings from:
- NCQA star ratings: Average insurer performance calculated for available state ratings of private, commercial health insurers.
- 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 premiums.