Medicare

Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2022

Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2022

For 2022, Kaiser Permanente has the overall best-rated Medicare Advantage plans, but other providers stand out in different ways such as having the cheapest prices or a large provider network.

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The best Medicare Advantage policy for you will depend on how well the plan's costs and coverage match your needs.

The general rule of thumb is that a cheaper plan will have trade-offs such as higher costs each time you get health care or poor customer service. A more expensive plan may give you better coverage, but the high monthly bill may not be worth it for those who are on a tight budget or who don't need much medical care.

Best Medicare Advantage companies

Best overall

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Most popular

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Cheapest

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List of Medicare Advantage plans

Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, are bundled health plans that provide medical benefits that are at least as good as Original Medicare (Parts A and B). In many cases, plans also include coverage for prescription drugs, dental and vision, making them a great way to simplify your insurance.

Here's how the 2022 Medicare Advantage plans stack up:

Category
Company
Cost
Popularity
Rating
Best overallKaiser Permanente$576%5.0
Most popularAARP/UnitedHealthcare$2127%4.2
Largest networkBlue Cross Blue Shield$428%4.1
Hassle-free prescriptionsHumana$4118%4.0
CheapestAetna/CVS$711%3.9

Average star rating and monthly cost of 2022 plans sourced from Medicare.gov

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When choosing a plan, Medicare Advantage star ratings are one of the most important tools to get a snapshot of a plan's overall performance, customer satisfaction and comprehensiveness of coverage.

However, each insurer will have its pros and cons.

Even our best overall pick isn't the best for everyone because of its higher costs and limited availability. On the other hand, if you have specialized health care needs, then you could prioritize a plan with a diverse provider network, which may give you better access to specialists. And if you're looking for cheap coverage, keep in mind that there might be some trade-offs in terms of the plan's benefits.

Below we compare some of the largest Medicare Advantage plans and providers across several categories. If you want additional options, consider Medicare Advantage plans from regional providers. These smaller companies offer plans in limited regions, but if you live in their service area, they can be a great way to get top-rated coverage.

Best Medicare Advantage provider

Kaiser Permanente's 5-star rating is an outstanding highlight, making these plans an excellent choice for those who live in the company's service areas.
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Insurer details:
  • Star rating on Medicare.gov: 5.0
  • Average cost: $57
  • Unique value: Good benefits and top customer satisfaction
Read the full review

Kaiser Permanente is the best Medicare Advantage provider because plans are consistently rated 5 out of 5 stars on Medicare.gov.

Kaiser Permanente's Medicare Advantage plans are good for those who are willing to pay for a more expensive plan in order to get affordable medical care and good benefits.

In general, enrollees will spend less on health services while having the predictable, but more expensive, monthly cost of the Medicare Advantage plan.

Even though a typical policy costs more than $50 per month, many plans have a $0 deductible so you get the cost-sharing benefits as soon as you enroll. The copayments for medical care are also affordable, and with the sample plans we reviewed, a doctor visit could cost $15, an X-ray could cost $25 and a trip to the emergency room could cost $90.

Importantly, Kaiser's Medicare plans have a limited provider network because the Medicare Advantage plans are paired with Kaiser’s medical centers and hospitals. This can be a helpful way to streamline your care because you can manage your health records and insurance coverage through the same online portal.

The downside is you'll have less flexibility in where to go for medical care. Even though enrollees still have broad coverage during emergencies or when outside of the service area, these plans are not a good fit for those who prefer a wide network of health care providers. In particular, those who need specialized medical care should check that the in-network providers can meet their health needs.

Policyholders with Kaiser Permanente can also choose to add the insurer's Advantage Plus package, which provides coverage for dental services, hearing aids and eyewear.

Most popular Medicare Advantage company

With 27% of all Medicare Advantage enrollees choosing AARP/UnitedHealthcare, these best-selling plans are widely available, and AARP offers multiple $0 plans in many counties.
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Insurer details:
  • Star rating on Medicare.gov: 4.2
  • Average cost: $21
  • Unique value: Wide variety of plan options, many with benefits for dental, vision and hearing
Read the full review

AARP/UnitedHealthcare is the most popular Medicare Advantage provider with many enrollees valuing its combination of good ratings, affordable premiums and add-on benefits.

For many people, AARP/UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans fall into the sweet spot for having good benefits at an affordable price.

The plans may not be as highly rated as those from Kaiser Permanente, but they are still rated above-average while also being priced affordably at about $21 per month.

AARP Medicare Advantage plans are administered by UnitedHealthcare (UHC), which offers good benefits and a wide network of providers. There's also the option to get a PPO plan for better access to out-of-network care.

The company stands out for its broad range of add-on programs and discounts including vision, dental, free gym memberships, mental fitness and a credit toward over-the-counter products. These programs can be especially useful for those who want to stay healthy on a budget.

For most people, AARP's prescription drug benefits are middle-of-the-road with a typical drug deductible being about $139. However, for those who need expensive medications, many plans provide benefits during the coverage gap (also called the donut hole). This is an important benefit that can protect those with high prescription drug costs from paying more for medications at some point in the policy year.

AARP Medicare Advantage plans have some downsides, and a high percentage of enrollees are unhappy or frustrated with their plans. In J.D. Power's Medicare Advantage survey, UnitedHealthcare falls short on customer satisfaction. The company ranked in the bottom third among the nine providers analyzed. Plus, UHC has 22% more complaints than is typical for its size according to the complaint index by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Cheapest Medicare Advantage provider

Consider Aetna Medicare Advantage HMO plans for cheap rates, good coverage and valuable add-on benefits.
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Insurer details:

  • Star rating on Medicare.gov: 3.9
  • Average cost: $7
  • Unique value: Comprehensive policies with many add-ons
Read the full review

Aetna Medicare Advantage plans have the cheapest overall prices, costing an average of $7 per month for 2022.

Aetna's Medicare Advantage plans stand out for those who are looking for affordable coverage. Most plans are available for $0, which means you don't have to pay anything on top of your monthly cost for Original Medicare. Plus, there are several Aetna plans that have no or low deductibles, helping you avoid large medical expenses early in the policy year.

Aetna's Medicare Advantage plans may be cheap, but they also have important add-on benefits making them a good value. Coverage usually includes dental, vision, hearing, prescription drugs, SilverSneakers, caregiver support and over-the-counter health items.

Although Aetna also offers PPO plans, it's usually a better deal to get an Aetna HMO plan. Among the plans we reviewed, Aetna's PPO plans had high out-of-pocket maximums. So even though a PPO plan would give you more choices about where to go for medical care, Aetna's high out-of-pocket max means those with high medical needs could have expensive medical bills before the company starts paying 100% of the cost of covered services.

The downside of Aetna's Medicare Advantage plans is the company's customer experience. According to the NAIC, Aetna has about twice as many complaints as is typical for an insurance company of its size. Additionally, Aetna scored in the bottom half of J.D. Power's Medicare Advantage customer service survey.

This means that even though Aetna's Medicare Advantage plans are a great value, they're not the best choice for those who want to avoid insurance frustrations.

Medicare Advantage company with the largest network

Consider Blue Cross Blue Shield if you want the strength of an established insurance company and the flexibility of a large network of doctors and medical providers.
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When comparing provider networks, keep in mind that it's not always an apples-to-apples comparison because each company publicizes its figures slightly differently. However, the overall trends can give you a snapshot of how broad the health care access could be in your area.

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield/Anthem: 90% of doctors and hospitals
  • Cigna Healthspring: 1.5 million health care providers, clinics and facilities
  • UnitedHealthcare/AARP: 1.3 million health care providers
  • Aetna/CVS: 1.2 million health care providers
  • Humana: 560,000 providers in the ChoiceCare and Behavioral Health networks
  • Centene: 238,000 physicians
  • Kaiser Permanente: 80,000 physicians and nurses
Insurer details:
  • Star rating on Medicare.gov: 4.1
  • Average cost: $42
  • Unique value: Well-rated company with few complaints

Read the full review

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) has one of the largest provider networks, making it a good choice for those who are seeking flexibility about which doctors and medical facilities they use.

Whether Blue Cross Blue Shield is operating in your area as Anthem, Highmark or another subsidiary, the company's massive footprint can give you access to one of the industry's largest provider networks.

This makes BCBS Medicare Advantage plans an especially good choice for those who want the flexibility to get care from a wide range of doctors and medical providers. Not only can this help you see doctors you like, but the wide network is especially useful for those who need specialized health care.

Keep in mind that the list of in-network providers varies between plans. Those concerned about provider access should choose a PPO plan to get coverage for out-of-network care, but expect to pay more for these plans and any medical care received out of network.

BCBS has an overall strong performance of 14% fewer complaints than is typical for a company of its size, according to the complaint index by the NAIC.

In general, Medicare Advantage plans from BCBS are more expensive than plans from some other providers. However, a variety of plans are available, and many locations have options for $0 plans as well as options with better benefits that cost more than $150 per month.

Despite the range of plans to choose from, most BCBS Medicare Advantage plans have good coverage for prescription drugs, and benefits frequently include generic drugs without having to meet a deductible.

While BCBS has an overall good rating of 4.1 stars, each subsidiary is managed independently. This means that there are significant regional variations. Using the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Health Plan Report Cards about Medicare plans, we see that BCBS is well-rated in New York, Florida and Idaho. On the other hand, the poor ratings in South Carolina and Illinois mean that residents in those states should consider another provider.

Medicare Advantage company that's best for hassle-free prescriptions

Consider Humana for good prescription drug benefits available across a wide range of plan types and coverage levels.
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medicare prescription drug satisfaction
Insurer details:
  • Star rating on Medicare.gov: 4.0
  • Average cost: $41
  • Unique value: Insulin Savings Program and add-on benefits like SilverSneakers

Read the full review

Humana Medicare Advantage has the best customer satisfaction for mail-order prescription customers.

For the past four years, Humana has led J.D. Power's survey of customer satisfaction for mail-order prescription drugs. Humana's top rating shows that these plans can be a stress-free way to get the medications you need. And in this area, Humana Pharmacy even surpasses Kaiser Permanente, which has long set the standard as one of the best insurance companies.

Overall, Humana's Medicare Advantage plans usually have good prescription drug benefits. About 28% of plans have no drug deductible while only costing an average of $19 per month.

Among the Humana plans that do have a drug deductible, the majority provide Tier 1 drugs without requiring that you first meet your deductible. This means you can get low-cost generic medications starting on the first day of your policy. Plus Humana's Insulin Savings Program can mean you'll pay $35 for a 30-day supply of insulin.

More generally, Humana is a large Medicare Advantage provider with popular plans and a wide variety of plan options. The range of plan options is a big advantage for those who are looking for the right balance between coverage and cost. For example, you can choose a cheap HMO plan such as the Humana Gold Plus, which has low monthly costs. However, coverage with a cheap plan won't be as good as coverage with one of Humana's more expensive plans that have better benefits and a wider selection of medical providers.

Having the full range of plans to choose from means that you can start with a cheaper Medicare Advantage plan when you're younger or healthier. Then as you develop greater medical needs, you can continue using Humana but change your policy during annual open enrollment to improve your benefits and get better coverage as you need it.

The customer experience for Humana plans is about average with Medicare Advantage satisfaction being slightly better than average and the rate of complaints being slightly worse than average.

Humana Medicare Advantage also stands out for its add-on benefits and programs. Members get access to the popular SilverSneakers program. Plus, there are dental discounts of 20%-60%, vision discounts, resources for nutrition and weight loss, discounts for fall-detection systems and alternative care such as acupuncture and massage.


Regional providers with top Medicare Advantage plans

In addition to the major insurance companies, there are also regional insurance providers with very highly rated Medicare Advantage plans.

On Medicare.gov, the average star rating for these regional providers is above 4.5, an achievement that Kaiser Permanente is the only national insurer to achieve. For those who want a highly rated plan but who don't have access to Kaiser Permanente, these smaller insurers are a great option. For example, those living in some areas of New York can choose a Medicare Advantage plan from CDPHP, a 5-star insurer with an average rate of just $44 per month.

Insurer
Location
Cost
Star ratings
SelectHealthID, NV, UT$405.0
Capital Health Plan (Guidewell)FL$415.0
CDPHP (Capital District Physicians' Health Plan Inc.)NY$445.0
SSM Healthcare/Dean Health PlanWI, IL, MO$755.0
Tufts Health PlanMA$895.0
Baylor Scott & White Health PlanTX$1105.0
HighmarkPA, WV, DE, NY$864.9
HealthPartnersIL, IA, MN, WI$254.8

Average monthly cost and star rating for 2022 plans sourced from Medicare.gov

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gPTwhA\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003ELocation\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/th\u003E\u003Cth colSpan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledHeaderCell-sc-nsptsd frWuiR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledColumnHeaderWrapper-sc-12xyb2r glLrYA\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003ECost\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/th\u003E\u003Cth colSpan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledHeaderCell-sc-nsptsd frWuiR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledColumnHeaderWrapper-sc-12xyb2r glLrYA\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003EStar ratings\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/th\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003C\/thead\u003E\u003Ctbody class=\"StyledBody-sc-14y8oc0 dcdMVT\"\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ESelectHealth\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EID, NV, UT\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E$40\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E5.0\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ECapital Health Plan (Guidewell)\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EFL\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E$41\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E5.0\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ECDPHP (Capital District Physicians' Health Plan Inc.)\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ENY\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E$44\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E5.0\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ESSM Healthcare\/Dean Health Plan\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EWI, IL, MO\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E$75\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E5.0\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ETufts Health Plan\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EMA\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E$89\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E5.0\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EBaylor Scott & White Health Plan\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ETX\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E$110\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E5.0\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EHighmark\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EPA, WV, DE, 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Keep in mind that there are a few additional factors to weigh when considering a smaller insurance company. One of the advantages is that a smaller company could be better tied into the local community and have more investment in the health needs of the Medicare enrollees who live in the region.

On the other hand, a smaller company may not have the same financial strength as the major insurers. Among the list of Medicare Advantage plans above, only two have a rating with AM Best: Capital Health Plan has an A+ (Superior), and Highmark has an A (Excellent). These high financial ratings mean that the companies are well-positioned to pay out large claims. The rest of the companies are unrated, which means we don't have any information about their financial strength.


How to choose the best Medicare Advantage plan

Choosing your best Medicare Advantage plan will depend on the cost, amount of coverage and provider network of the policy. These will vary greatly when comparing insurers but will also differ between the plans that each provider offers. That's why it's important to understand these categories and how they will change your Medicare health insurance.

1. Compare monthly costs

Medicare Advantage costs include your monthly premium, deductible, out-of-pocket maximum, copays and coinsurance. The monthly premium for a policy usually impacts the level of the deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. For example, if you select a plan with a higher monthly premium, then usually the deductible and the amount you need to pay out of pocket are lower.

2. Calculate how much you expect to pay for health care

Plans usually have a coinsurance amount for each health need, such as visits to a primary care physician or inpatient care. If you decide to select a cheaper Medicare Advantage plan, your copays may be more expensive.

3. Consider any additional benefits that are included

Some Medicare Advantage policies include added benefits, such as fitness programs, dental care, vision care or online concierge services. You should take these into account before deciding what is the best Medicare Advantage plan for you.

4. Look at provider networks

A Medicare Advantage plan usually negotiates the relationships with the doctors and medical providers. For this reason, it is important to carefully review the network of each plan you are considering. For example, if you have a preferred primary care physician who you have used throughout your life, we would recommend confirming with that doctor that they are within the network for the policy you are choosing to purchase.


Frequently asked questions

What is the best Medicare Advantage plan?

For 2022, Kaiser Permanente ranks as the best-rated provider of Medicare Advantage plans, scoring an average of 5 out of 5 stars. Plans are only available in seven states and the District of Columbia. We also recommend AARP/UnitedHealthcare for its best-selling plans that provide good coverage or Aetna for the cheapest rates.

Which Medicare Advantage plan has the best dental coverage?

Medicare Advantage plans from AARP/UnitedHealthcare have some of the best dental benefits. You'll get coverage for a wide network of dentists. Plus, routine or preventive services are free if you stay in network. However, comprehensive dental coverage varies for the $0 plans. Some plans may cap their dental benefits, only paying $1,000 per policy year. Others don't have a cap but instead have lower cost-sharing benefits meaning you'll spend more for each dental service.

What’s the best way to compare Medicare Advantage plans?

When comparing Medicare Advantage plans, there are two main things to consider: cost and coverage. For cost, consider the total amount that you'll pay for health care and insurance. In some cases, you'll get a better deal by paying more for a policy that has better benefits, helping you to save on health care. For coverage, make sure a plan gives you strong benefits in the areas you expect to need the most, such as diabetes care, prescription drugs or inpatient surgery. Also consider add-on benefits such as coverage for dental care and hearing aids because these costs can add up if you don't have coverage.

Methodology

Medicare Advantage company reviews and comparisons are based on a variety of rating factors including cost, coverage, benefits and provider networks. Plan details were sourced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) public use files. Additionally, ValuePenguin used data from rating agencies such as AM Best, J.D. Power and the NAIC to identify the best Medicare Advantage companies and plans.

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.