Anthem vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: What's the Difference?

Blue Cross Blue Shield is a better overall choice for health insurance and Medicare than Anthem.

While Anthem usually has lower rates, Blue Cross Blue Shield has better customer service and is available in more areas.

Anthem is one of the brands within the Blue Cross Blue Shield group, which is one of the largest health insurance companies in the country. Because of this, comparing Blue Cross Blue Shield and Anthem can be tricky when you're trying to choose a company. But if you live in a state that has Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield options, reviewing each company's rates and customer service levels can help you decide between the two.

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Anthem vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield rates

Anthem is usually cheaper than other Blue Cross Blue Shield companies.

But the cheapest health insurance company for you will depend on where you live and what kind of coverage you buy.

To compare the cost of Anthem with Blue Cross Blue Shield, we focused only on states where Anthem sells coverage alongside another Blue Cross Blue Shield company. Because Anthem is a part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield group, rates for Blue Cross Blue Shield nationally include Anthem. Focusing the analysis on states where Anthem and another Blue Cross Blue Shield company both sell plans more clearly illustrates the differences between the companies.

Cheapest for health insurance: Anthem

Anthem has cheaper health insurance plans than Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) in both California and Missouri, two states where both companies are available.

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In California, a Silver plan from Anthem Blue Cross is $68 cheaper per month compared to Blue Shield of California. In Missouri, a Silver plan from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield saves you $95 per month compared to the same plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

Anthem vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Health insurance rates

State
Anthem
BCBS
California$534$602
Missouri$707$802

Average monthly costs for a 40-year-old with a Silver plan.

Cheapest for Medicare Advantage: Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield has cheaper Medicare Advantage plans than Anthem. Both companies are cheaper than the state average. Medicare Advantage plans are also called Medicare Part C plans.

In Missouri, Blue Medicare Advantage has $0 plans. Keep in mind that you'll still pay your Medicare Part B cost, though. You'll pay an average of $10 per month if you buy a plan from Anthem, which operates two separate companies in Missouri.

A Medicare Advantage plan from Blue Shield of California costs $12 per month, on average. Anthem has three different companies for Medicare Advantage in California, and the average premium is $15.

Anthem vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Medicare Advantage rates

State
Anthem
BCBS
Missouri$10$0
California$15$12

Average monthly costs for plans with prescription drug coverage.

Cheapest for Medicare Supplement: Tie

Blue Cross Blue Shield is cheaper for Medicare Supplement Plan G in California. But if you live in Missouri, Anthem is the cheaper option. Medicare Supplement is also called Medigap coverage. Plan G has the best Medicare Supplement plan benefits if you're enrolling in coverage for the first time.

In California, it's $10 per month cheaper to get Medigap Plan G coverage from the local Blue Cross Blue Shield company versus Anthem BlueCross. In Missouri, Anthem is the cheaper option. A Plan G from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is $35 cheaper per month than a Plan G from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

Anthem vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Medicare Supplement Plan G rates

State
Anthem
BCBS
California$144$134
Missouri$151$186

Average monthly costs for Medigap Plan G.

Cheapest for Medicare Part D: Anthem

Anthem is cheaper for Medicare Part D in California, but both Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield are more expensive than the state average. California is the only state where Anthem and another Blue Cross Blue Shield company both sell Medicare Part D plans.

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A Medicare Part D plan from Anthem Blue Cross MediBlue Rx is $42 cheaper per month than a plan from Blue Shield of California. However, the average cost for Medicare Part D in California is 35% lower than a plan from Anthem. You can probably find a cheaper plan with another company outside of the Blue Cross Blue Shield group.

Anthem vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Medicare Part D rates

Anthem
BCBS
Average monthly rate$93$135

Anthem vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage options

Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield usually have comparable coverage options in the states where both companies do business.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is available in more areas, though, so it's usually easier to find the policy type you need. The types of policies available to you will depend on the specific Blue Cross Blue Shield or Anthem company in your area. You might find your local company offers different types of policies, including supplemental coverage, dental and vision plans, or group health insurance.

Policy type
Anthem
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Health insurance
Medicare Advantage
Medicare Supplement
Medicare Part D

Anthem vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield availability

Blue Cross Blue Shield sells health insurance and Medicare in more states than Anthem.

Anthem offers health insurance policies in 14 states, while a Blue Cross Blue Shield company is available nationwide. The plans available to you will depend on the state you live in, what county you're in and the type of health coverage you're looking for.

You might even have access to both Anthem and another Blue Cross Blue Shield company. Four states have both an Anthem company and another Blue Cross Blue Shield company selling health insurance.

California

  • Anthem Blue Cross
  • Blue Shield of California

Missouri

  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield MO
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City

Ohio

  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield OH
  • Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield WV

Virginia

  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield VA
  • CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the three largest health insurance companies in 32 states. Anthem is one of the three largest companies in eight states.

In some states, you might have access to more than one Blue Cross Blue Shield company. In others, though, it will depend on the county you're in. For example, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Ohio operates in 82 of Ohio's 88 counties. But Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia is only available in one Ohio county. Only residents of Washington County, Ohio have access to both companies.

Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield availability varies by type of insurance. For example, Georgia has both Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee for Medicare Advantage plans, although only Catoosa County residents have access to both companies.

Anthem availability

Anthem sells at least one type of health coverage in 14 states.

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Blue Cross Blue Shield availability

At least one Blue Cross Blue Shield company is available in every state.

However, you can't buy BCBS health insurance from the federal marketplace in Mississippi, Nebraska or South Dakota. But other types of coverage, like Medicare Advantage, may be available in these states.


Anthem vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield customer service

Blue Cross Blue Shield has better customer satisfaction than Anthem.

The largest Blue Cross Blue Shield company, Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC), has fewer complaints than usual for a company its size, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The largest Anthem company also has fewer complaints than average but still slightly more than HCSC.

Judging the customer service of Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield can be difficult. Every Blue Cross Blue Shield company, including Anthem companies, operates independently. That means the service could be great in one area of the country and below average in another. The best way to know what kind of service to expect is to research your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company.

Blue Cross Blue Shield also has higher satisfaction for Medicare Advantage plans. J.D. Power analyzed customer satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans in five states.

  • Anthem only has good customer satisfaction in New York.
  • Other Blue Cross Blue Shield companies have above good customer satisfaction in New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.
  • Neither Anthem nor Blue Cross Blue Shield is well-rated in California and Florida.

Frequently asked questions

Is Anthem the same as Blue Cross Blue Shield?

Anthem is part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield group. Blue Cross Blue Shield is made up of independent companies. Anthem is one of these companies. Other Blue Cross Blue Shield brands include Highmark, Regence and CareFirst.

Is Blue Cross Blue Shield or Anthem better?

Overall, Blue Cross Blue Shield is better than Anthem. You can get Blue Cross Blue Shield in more areas, and it generally has better customer satisfaction than Anthem. However, Anthem is usually cheaper. Both Blue Cross Blue Shield and Anthem offer quality coverage. To choose a health insurance company, start by reviewing your quotes, the coverage, the doctor network and any extras the company offers.

What did Anthem change its name to?

Anthem Inc., the parent company of Anthem, changed its name to Elevance Health in June 2022. Although the overall company is now Elevance Health, health insurance plans are still branded as Anthem.


Methodology and sources

Average rates were collected based on data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) public use files (PUFs). Plans and providers for which county-level data was included in the CMS Crosswalk file were used in our analysis; those excluded from this data set may not appear. For states that don't use the federal marketplace, data was obtained and analyzed based on state-run marketplaces. Average rates are for a 40-year-old with a Silver plan.

Cost data for Medicare Advantage plans was sourced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) public use files (PUFs). Average costs are for plans with prescription drug coverage. Employer-sponsored plans, Health Care Prepayment Plans (HCPPs), Medicare-Medicaid Plans (MMPs), PACE plans, sanctioned plans and Special Needs Plans are excluded.

Rate data for all private insurance companies was used for Medicare Supplement costs. Rates are for a 65-year-old nonsmoking woman. Costs reflect the price at open enrollment with preferred or guaranteed-issue status. Medical underwriting was not factored into the rates.

Rates were obtained using public use files (PUFs) from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Employer-sponsored and sanctioned plans are excluded from this analysis.

Other sources include AM Best, J.D. Power, Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

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.