Best Health Insurance Companies: 2020

Updated on: September 17th, 2020

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Best Health Insurance Companies

The right health insurance plan can go a long way toward helping you cover your costs and reducing the chance that a serious illness or injury will result in financial devastation. By comparing plans from the best health insurance companies, it’s possible to find coverage designed to work best for you — and fit your budget.

We’ve compiled a list of the best health insurance companies, designed to help you figure out where to start your search. Your access depends on where you live, but there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find a plan that works in your circumstances. 

Best Overall: UnitedHealthcare
Best for Online Experience: UnitedHealthcare
Best Value: Aetna
Best Provider Network: Blue Cross Blue Shield
Best for Older Customers: Humana
Best for Wellness Care: Molina
Best for Short-Term Policies: National General
Best for HMO Plans: HCSC
Best for HSA Options: Kaiser Permanente
Best Customer Service: Kaiser PermanenteBest for Telehealth: Cigna
Best for ACA Coverage: Centene
Best Health Insurance App: Oscar

What You Need to Know

Cost always matters when it comes to choosing health insurance. But don’t forget to make sure the plan you sign up for meets your needs.

Also, look into the network of doctors you can access through a plan. If you travel a lot, you want to pick a carrier that has a larger network.

Rating services provide a good window into how a company will treat you as a customer.

Best Overall: UnitedHealthcare

With its wide variety of coverage and large market share, it’s not hard to find a health insurance plan from UnitedHealthcare. This company has the largest market share of the best health insurance companies, with 14.17%, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).1 This represents the coverage of more than 70 million Americans in 16 states across all regions of the country.

Even though it has some customer-satisfaction drawbacks, UnitedHealthcare Group makes up for it with wide accessibility, low-cost plans, and a well-designed website.

ProsCons
Great online portalLong wait times
A variety of plans with competitive pricingNo coverage for preexisting conditions
Large preferred provider organization (PPO) networkBelow average overall customer satisfaction ratings

UnitedHealthcare Group Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating:2 A (excellent)

J.D. Power:3 Consistently ranks “average” to “the rest” in overall satisfaction in various regions

NCQA rating:4 Receives a rating of 4.0 out of 5.0 in several states

Best for Online Experience: UnitedHealthcare

In addition to being one of the best overall, UnitedHealthcare also has the best online portal. You can manage your healthcare account online, find providers and more. The mobile app is easy to use and you can even speak with a doctor through the mobile device. This accessibility makes it a solid choice for someone looking for a better online experience.

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Best Value: Aetna

If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, consider Aetna. Then CVS acquired it in 2018.5 Aetna offers health plans in all 50 states. On top of that, it offers a wide variety of plans compatible with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). These high-deductible plans often come with lower premiums.

ProsCons
HSA plansFewer short-term policies
than competitors
Relatively low costsWebsite isn’t always
easy to navigate
Coverage nationwide
Access to wellness programs

Aetna Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating:6 A (excellent)

J.D. Power:7 Top performer in the Delaware/West Virginia/Washington D.C. and Virginia regions

NCQA rating:8 Top-rated in Utah (tied with SelectHealth)

Best Provider Network: Blue Cross Blue Shield

Because Blue Cross Blue Shield has a vast national network, as well as access to a variety of discounts, this health insurance network is one of the best. In fact, the largest Blue Cross Blue Shield provider, Anthem, has 6.07% of the health insurance market share, according to NAIC.9 

There are some regional and state differences in coverage, but for the most part, you can get comprehensive coverage fairly easily.

ProsCons
Large network with availability
in all 50 states
Regional and state differences
can lead to variations in cost
and quality
Member discounts availableCustomer service uses a lot
of automation and it can
be difficult to speak with someone about the situation
Wide variety of policy options designed to fit almost any needComplaints about claim denials

Blue Cross Blue Shield Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating:10 Depends on the state or region, but Anthem has a rating of A (excellent)

J.D. Power:11 Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are top performers in the Heartland, Massachusetts, Northeast, Pennsylvania, Southwest and Texas regions

NCQA rating:12 Top rated in Connecticut but also ranks well in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

Best for Older Customers: Humana

With 5.06% of market share,13 it’s no surprise that Humana is one of the best health insurance companies. What makes this company ideal for seniors, though, is the fact that it doesn’t increase premiums for older customers, just on the basis of their age. The most affordable policies are health maintenance organizations (HMO), however, and the pharmacy options might be very limited. Even so, Humana Pharmacy ranks highly for mail-order, which can also make it attractive to older customers.

ProsCons
Wide coverage areaLimited pharmacy options
Low-cost plans availableBest pricing is with HMOs
Doesn’t increase premiums for
senior citizens

Humana Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating:14 A- (excellent)

J.D. Power:15 The rankings for the health plans are in the middle of the pack, but the Humana Pharmacy does rank as the best in the mail-order pharmacy category

NCQA rating:16 Humana ties for the top ratings in Illinois

Best for Wellness Care: Molina

There are a number of clinics operated by Molina, making it a solid choice for wellness care and prevention. The market share for this health insurance company is 1.67%,17 and plans from Molina aren’t available on a nationwide basis. Many of the plans cover items like prenatal care and adult immunizations, making it a solid choice for wellness care. With 3.4 million members,18 you’re most likely to find Molina plans on state insurance exchanges offering Medicaid and Medicare.

ProsCons
Access to clinicsLimited availability
Preventative care programs
Wellness programs
Operates in underserved
areas

Molina Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating: not rated

J.D. Power: N/A

NCQA rating: N/A

Best for Short Term Policies: National General

Not everyone needs a long-term health insurance policy. This is where National General can help. This company offers some of the best access to short-term health insurance policies, or if you’re temporarily without health insurance. You’ll end up paying more for this coverage, because of its short-term nature.

ProsCons
Receive coverage quicklyPremiums are higher
than average
Short-term policySome long-term conditions,
like pregnancy, aren’t covered

National General Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating:19 A- (excellent)

J.D. Power: N/A

NCQA rating: N/A

Best for HMO Plans: HCSC

Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) is known as one of the world’s “Most Ethical Companies,” according to Ethisphere Institute. HCSC has 3.42% 20 of the healthcare market share and is the largest consumer-owned health insurer, with 15 million members in five states. This company offers relatively competitive rates because it offers a number of HMO options. You’ll also find a number of online tools and wellness programs.

ProsCons
Low-cost HMOsLimited availability
Wellness programsCoverage might be
limited
Online tools

HCSC Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating:21 A (excellent)

J.D. Power: N/A

NCQA rating: N/A

Best for HSA Options: Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is one of the most well-known health insurance providers and has 8.42% 22 of the healthcare market share, coming in second behind United Healthcare. However, Kaiser only offers coverage in eight states. However, for those who do have access to coverage, this is one of the best health insurance companies because of its solid customer service. Plus, all of the plans except the very top tier, have HSA options, potentially leading to lower premiums and better use of your healthcare dollars.

ProsCons
Numerous HSA optionsLimited availability
Wide variety of plans
Physical medical centers
Good mobile app

Kaiser Permanente Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating: not rated

J.D. Power:23 Consistently rates highly where available, including being the top-rated insurer in the California, Colorado, Maryland, Northwest and South Atlantic regions

NCQA rating:24 Every provider except one has a rating of 4.0 or above, and it’s the best-rated insurer in Maryland and California

Best Customer Service: Kaiser Permanente

In addition to offering great HSA options, Kaiser Permanente is known for its customer service. The company is one of the top recipients when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to the 2019 J.D. Power & Associates Commercial Member Health Plan Study. On top of that, Insure.com gives Kaiser Permanente an 89 out of 100 rating for claims processing.

Best for Telehealth: Cigna

Increasingly, the ability to participate in telehealth is important, especially in rural areas. Cigna, with its 2.70%25 share of the healthcare market, is known for its ability to connect you with telehealth professionals. Cigna offers its services in 10 states, providing a range of plans and coverage at different premium levels.

ProsCons
Telehealth access through MDLIVE and AmwellLimited availability
No referrals needed to go out of networkCan’t access telehealth without a broadband connection

Cigna Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating:26 BBB (good)

J.D. Power:27 Overall high satisfaction, with top ratings in the East South Central and New Jersey regions

NCQA rating:28 Has a 4.0 rating in four states and 3.5 rating in many others

Best for ACA Coverage: Centene

After buying Fidelis Care in 2017, Centene became the largest provider of insurance offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is known for providing coverage in areas where other ACA plans have pulled out. Centene has a 3.29% 29 market share.

ProsCons
Wide variety of ACA plansLimits access to providers
Small payments to eligible
members for wellness screenings
Limited availability

Centene Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating: not rated

J.D. Power: Ranked fifth in the 2019 Medicare Advantage Study with mostly average ratings

NCQA rating: N/A

Best Health Insurance App: Oscar

Oscar is a health insurance startup with a great app. However, the focus is on exclusive provider organizations (EPOs), which can make it difficult for those who want access to PPOs or HMOs. There’s a high level of customer service satisfaction, and there are great member benefits, especially the Doctor On-Call benefit.

ProsCons
Personalized health coverageLimited availability
Member benefitsRelatively high cost as
compared to competitors
Access to Medicare plans

Oscar Rankings

A.M. Best financial rating: not rated

J.D. Power: N/A

NCQA rating:30 Only two states have ratings for Oscar, 3.0 and 2.5

How to Choose a Health Plan

When choosing a health insurance plan, the cost is one of the big factors. However, it’s also important to look at coverage and to make sure that the plan meets your needs. Also, consider the network and the availability of its providers. If you travel frequently, you may want to choose a company with a large network so you can access providers wherever you go.

Don’t forget to consider rankings as well. For example, the A.M. Best financial rating looks at stability, so a company with an excellent or good rating, like an A or B is likely to be around for a while. J.D. Power and NCQA ratings look at customer service satisfaction and patient care outcomes, respectively. These rankings can help you determine which health insurance companies may provide an experience in line with your expectations.

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Health Plan Terms

When choosing a plan, make sure you understand the terms used to describe various aspects of plans. Here are some of the most common terms:

  • Coinsurance: The amount you pay for covered healthcare after you pay your deductible. For example, if a company calls for 20% coinsurance on $100, you would pay $20 to the doctor, while the insurance company pays the other $80.
  • Deductible: The amount you pay out of pocket before the health insurance company begins to cover claims.
  • EPO: Exclusive provider organization, which allows you to choose your providers within a specific network. You can do so without choosing a primary care physician. However, you may not be able to use the insurance policy with out-of-network providers.
  • HMO: Health maintenance organization, which is a managed care organization that negotiates with healthcare providers for lower prices. Often, HMOs restrict which providers you can use, while you may be assigned primary care doctors, as well as specialists.
  • In-network: Providers who are part of your health insurance company’s network. These providers are cheaper because the providers agree to lower rates with your insurer.  
  • Out-of-network: Healthcare providers that aren’t in your insurance company’s network. You may have to pay more out of pocket if you go out-of-network, or the insurer may not cover any of your costs if you don’t choose an in-network provider.
  • PPO: Preferred provider organization, which is a type of plan where you can choose your providers within a network.  usually need to choose a primary care physician. It offers a little more flexibility than an HMO, and you might still be able to see out-of-network providers (at a higher rate).

How We Choose the Best Health Insurance Companies

We chose the best health insurance companies based on the types of plans they offer for different demographics and needs.  Rankings from reputable sources and accessibility, among other factors, also played a role in creating this list of best health insurance companies.

However, the best insurance company for you depends on your individual circumstances. Do your own research to determine which one best fits you, and which plan will provide the coverage you need at a price you can afford.

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Article Sources
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