Humana and UnitedHealthcare have the best Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado.
Both companies received good customer ratings and offer free or reasonably priced options to a large portion of Medicare recipients in the state.
More Colorado insurers are offering free Medicare Advantage plans in 2023, which has reduced the average cost to $9 per month. But not everyone in the state can get a Medicare Advantage policy, as they're not sold in some Colorado counties.
How we chose these Medicare plans: To find the best Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado, we reviewed average costs, quality ratings and availability. We also considered plan benefits and costs like deductibles and copayments.
Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado
Humana and UnitedHealthcare have the best overall plans with good ratings, meaning customers are happier with their plans. However, their average prices can be higher than competitors.
Kaiser Permanente has the highest ratings and can be expensive. For those looking for affordable options, all of Aetna's plans have no monthly cost, but the company's customer rating is not as good as other options.
|AARP - UHC||4.1||$14|
|Rocky Mountain Health - UHC||4.0||$16|
Average cost and star ratings are based on Medicare Advantage plans offered in Colorado. CMS hasn't yet published ratings for some Colorado insurers.
Colorado residents have 12 insurance providers and a combined 49 Medicare Advantage plans to choose from. But options vary based on where you live, and there are no Medicare Advantage plans sold at all in eight Colorado counties. In each of the 56 Colorado counties where Medicare Advantage is available, at least one free plan is offered.
Which Colorado counties don't have Medicare Advantage?
Some residents in the eastern part of Colorado won't have access to a Medicare Advantage plan, but Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans are sold in each of these areas. Medigap plans are private insurance policies that cover the costs left over after Medicare pays its portion for your health care services.
- Kit Carson
How Medicare rating changes might affect your plan choices
Overall Medicare Advantage plan scores are lower this year than in 2022. This is partly because Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) eased rating requirements during the pandemic, and plan scores for 2023 no longer reflect that temporary ratings relief.
If customer satisfaction is important to you and your plan's ratings fell this year, you may want to shop around during open enrollment. And if a 5-star option becomes newly available in your area during the year, you can switch plans under a "5-star special enrollment period."
Top-ranking Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado
Kaiser Permanente and Humana offer the highest-rated Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado.
Monthly rate$49 ?
Why it's great
- Kaiser Permanente offers the highest-rated plans in the state.
Why we like Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente has an overall CMS rating of 5 stars, meaning customers are happy with their health services and overall customer experience. The Kaiser plans we reviewed have no medical or drug deductible and free primary care visits with a network doctor. Kaiser plans are available to almost half of all Medicare recipients in Colorado.
Kaiser offers nine Medicare Advantage HMOs in 15 Colorado counties, with rates ranging from $0 per month for the Senior Advantage Core plan and the Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage Bronze up to $186 per month for the Senior Advantage Gold.
We recommend the Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage Silver HMO-POS for $39 per month. Compared to the Senior Advantage Bronze HMO-POS, the Silver option provides an added benefit for in-home support services and has lower out-of-pocket costs. For example, you pay $20 less for every specialist visit, and your out-of-pocket maximum is $1,500 lower than with the Kaiser Senior Advantage Bronze plan. So while your monthly payments would total $468 over a year for the Silver plan, you would still save $1,032 per year in total expenses.
The prescription benefit is identical among these policy options, so you won't gain or lose any drug coverage when choosing the Silver plan.
Humana Medicare Advantage plans are the second-highest rated in Colorado and are available to 56% of the state's Medicare enrollees.
Monthly rate$22 ?
Why it's great
Humana Medicare Advantage plans are affordable and have good customer satisfaction.
Why we like Humana
Humana customers consistently report being happy with their plans and gave especially high marks for Humana's care of chronic pain and illness. Humana's 4.2-star rating for 2023 is higher than many competitors in Colorado, and Humana offers plans to more Colorado residents than most other insurers in the state, second only to UnitedHealthcare.
If it's sold where you live, the Humana Gold Plus H0028-025 HMO is a good cost-saving option. The Gold Plus plan works well for those who don't mind working within a network and having a primary care provider (PCP) coordinate their health care. This option is good for most people because it has no monthly payment, no medical or drug deductible and a low out-of-pocket maximum of $3,900 or $4,900, depending on the county.
With the Humana Gold Plus plan, you pay nothing for a primary doctor visit and low or no copays for other outpatient care, like lab services and X-rays. Prescription copays are also affordable — you pay between $0 and $5 for each generic prescription. You also get a fitness benefit, nonemergency transport, free vision and dental exams and a routine hearing checkup for $25.
HumanaChoice H5216-137 PPO is the most widely available Humana plan. While the medical costs are higher than Humana Gold, HumanaChoice works well for people who need the freedom to choose any health care provider.
This PPO is free, but it does have annual deductibles. For example, you must spend $445 for prescriptions before those benefits kick in, and you'll have a separate medical deductible of $1,000. And while you can use any provider with a PPO, you pay extra for that freedom. For example, a network primary care visit costs $20, but you pay 40% of the cost to visit a non-network primary doctor. This means if your physician charges $180 for the visit, you pay $72.
With a PPO, your out-of-pocket limits are also higher when going outside the network. If you get your health care within the HumanaChoice network, your out-of-pocket maximum is $7,350 — the highest of all Humana plans. But when you go outside the network, your combined yearly maximum is $11,300.
Best cheap Medicare Advantage in Colorado
Aetna has the best selection of cheap plans in Colorado, with seven free Medicare Advantage plans available to almost half of all Medicare enrollees in the state.
But Aetna's customers are not completely happy with their plans, citing concerns with how doctors and hospitals are covered. Aetna earned a CMS star rating of 3.3 this year, a reduction from its 2022 rating of 3.8.
Monthly rate$0 ?
Why it's great
Aetna Medicare Advantage offers 7 free policies in 23 counties.
Why we like Aetna
Aetna only offers free plans in Colorado, making it one of the cheapest companies, and it has better ratings than other companies that only have $0 plans. Aetna offers five HMO and two PPO policies in 23 Colorado counties, all of which are free. It's a good selection of plans, but choices will vary depending on where you live.
The Aetna Medicare Premier 1 HMO-POS plan has a $0 premium, no medical or drug deductible and no copay for in-network primary care visits. This plan is best for those who want to save on health insurance costs and are able to work within Aetna's provider network.
Your annual out-of-pocket costs for the Premier 1 HMO, including copays and coinsurance, would be no more than $4,900. The prescription benefit is a good deal — you pay nothing for generic or preferred generic drugs.
The Aetna plan with the highest medical cost is the Premier Plus 2 PPO. This plan is best for those who need the flexibility to use out-of-network providers and are willing to pay the extra cost for that benefit.
While there is no medical or drug deductible, you could pay up to $5,500 per year in out-of-pocket costs — including copays and coinsurance — if you stay in the network. If you get care outside the network, your total yearly cost could be up to $8,950. And at $65, payments for non-network specialists visits are high compared to most other Aetna Medicare Advantage plans.
Both Aetna plans include dental benefits at no extra cost. Other member extras include a fitness benefit, mail-order prescriptions and an over-the-counter benefit that provides you with select pharmacy items such as cold medications at no cost.
Most widely available Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado
UnitedHealthcare sells 13 Medicare Advantage options to about 58% of Medicare recipients in Colorado.
Monthly rate$15 ?
Why it's great
UnitedHealthcare has low rates and is widely available throughout the state.
Why we like UnitedHealthcare
Customers are happy with UnitedHealthcare, giving their Medicare Advantage plans an overall 4-star CMS rating. The company has a good range of HMO and PPO options including two Rocky Mountain Health plans in 20 counties and 11 AARP plans in another 36 counties in the state.
If you live in counties like Delta or San Miguel in western Colorado, you'll get a Rocky Mountain Health Plan through UnitedHealthcare. In other areas of the state, you would be buying an AARP Medicare Advantage plan.
AARP rates in Colorado range from $0 to $39 per month, and several plans have no medical or drug deductible. Copays for primary doctor visits and some routine care are low or even free, but you will pay a copay for other services such as an inpatient hospital stay. Some UnitedHealthcare plans also offer fitness benefits and free dental exams, subject to plan coverage limits.
One of UnitedHealthcare's free plans is the AARP Medicare Advantage SecureHorizons Plan 2 HMO. This plan works well for those with less frequent health care needs since you can pay for your care as you need it, rather than pay a monthly bill for benefits you may not use. With SecureHorizons primary doctor visits and some lab services are free, and you pay $30 to see a specialist. SecureHorizons also has a transportation benefit to help you get to a doctor or other medical appointment.
A low-cost UnitedHealthcare plan is the AARP Medicare Advantage Choice Plan 2 PPO at $24 per month. This is a great option if you receive medical care fairly regularly or need extra dental services. The Choice Plan 2 PPO plan has higher costs than SecureHorizons but allows the flexibility to use out-of-network providers. The $24-per-month price does provide some upgrades, such as a lower copay if you have to stay in the hospital and extra dental benefits.
Both Rocky Mountain Health Plan options are HMOs. The CareAdvantage Value plan is free with an annual out-of-pocket medical limit of $4,900. A CareAdvantage Enhanced policy costs $32 per month but has a lower out-of-pocket limit of $4,500, saving you $400 per year. Since you only pay $384 in premiums over the year, you're left with an overall savings of $16 with the CareAdvantage Enhanced plan.
Medicare eligibility in Colorado
In any state, including Colorado, you can be eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 or you have a qualifying disability, kidney failure or Lou Gehrig's disease, also called ALS.
- Age: You qualify for Medicare when you turn 65 if you are a U.S. citizen and are receiving or eligible for Social Security benefits.
- Disability: You can qualify for Medicare due to disability if you meet the requirements, including being unable to work due to your medical condition.
- ESRD: You qualify for Medicare due to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) if you are receiving Social Security benefits, have kidney failure and are receiving dialysis or had a kidney transplant.
- Lou Gehrig's disease: You'll get Medicare as soon as you qualify for Social Security payments due to having the disease.
If you don't get Medicare automatically and need to apply, you would do so through the Social Security Administration or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). Whatever the reason you receive Medicare, you have the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
How do I choose the best Medicare Advantage plan?
To choose the right Medicare Advantage plan, consider monthly costs, medical benefits, providers and plan ratings. Some things to look for include:
- Plan costs: Monthly payments, deductibles and copays
- The plan's medical network: Check to be sure your doctors are covered
- Prescription benefits: Find out if your medications are covered and how much you'll pay
- Plan ratings: Among other factors, CMS star ratings can show whether plan customers have had a good experience
- Extra benefits: If you need dental, vision or hearing benefits, check to see how the plan covers them
Picking the best Medicare Advantage plan for you is an important decision. We recommend you start shopping a few months ahead of time so that you can be comfortable with your choice. You can get help with your research or with any Medicare-related question through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Search the SHIP website to find your local office.
Frequently asked questions
What are the best Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado?
Kaiser Permanente has some of the best Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado. Kaiser customers report being happy with their plan coverage and service, earning the company a 5-star rating from CMS. UnitedHealthcare is also highly rated and offers the largest plan selection in the state, while Humana has a 4.2 rating and covers 56% of Colorado Medicare enrollees.
How much does Medicare Advantage cost in Colorado?
Medicare Advantage costs an average of $9 per month in Colorado. Rates range from $0 to $186 per month, and every insurer offers a $0-premium plan.
Can I change Medicare Advantage plans anytime?
Generally, you can change Medicare Advantage plans only during an open enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year. You also can switch your existing Medicare Advantage plan yearly between Jan. 1 and March 31. But under certain circumstances like moving or losing coverage, you could enroll under a special enrollment period at any time of year.
Methodology and sources
Our analysis of Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado excluded plans that do not provide prescription drug coverage, employer group plans and special needs plans (SNPs). Medicare plan data was sourced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) public use files and from the Medicare.gov plan finder site. We compared 2023 plans based on cost, coverage, quality and availability. When calculating insurer-specific averages, we combined affiliated companies.