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Best Health Insurance Companies of 2023

Blue Cross Blue Shield's plans are feature-rich and highly ranked

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Shopping for individual insurance can feel overwhelming. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) standardized certain health insurance features, but there can still be variations in quality and value. To help you find the best health insurance company, we compared some of the largest providers on the federal and state health insurance exchanges. We examined availability across states, National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and healthcare.gov ratings, types of plans available, plan benefits, dental insurance options, and cost, including premiums, copays, and deductibles.

Best Health Insurance Companies of 2023

Best Health Insurance Companies of 2023
Best Health Insurance Companies of 2023

Best Overall : Blue Cross Blue Shield

The Balance's Rating
4.7

Blue Cross Blue Shield

 Blue Cross Blue Shield

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • High NCQA plan ratings

  • Offers all major plan types and Obamacare metal levels

  • Offers dental insurance for kids and adults on some plans

  • Free virtual care available 24/7 in some areas

Cons
  • High physician copays in some states

  • Plans are sold by 34 independent and local companies

Why We Chose It

If you’re looking for the best health insurance company overall, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is our top recommendation. BCBS plans are generally well-rated by the NCQA, averaging 3.74 out of 5 points. That’s the second-highest score among the companies we evaluated.

The company offers a wide selection of health insurance plans, including health maintenance organization (HMO), preferred provider organization (PPO), exclusive provider organization (EPO), and point-of-service (POS) plans, as well as dental coverage for kids and adults. It offers bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and catastrophic plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace and on state exchanges. 

You can get free telehealth visits around the clock in some areas, and exchange plans offer health management programs for heart disease, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and pain management. 

BCBS sells insurance plans nationwide, which is a plus, but doesn’t offer marketplace plans in all states. Plus, its plans are sold through 34 regional companies, which means quality, customer service, plan availability, and features can vary widely depending on your location. 

BCBS doesn’t have many downsides. However, we found that BCBS plans tended to be more expensive than some other providers in terms of overall cost (we accounted for premiums, copays, and deductibles). However, it offered the best-value gold plans among the companies we reviewed.

Learn more in our Blue Cross Blue Shield review.

Best Value : Oscar

The Balance's Rating
4.4

Oscar Insurance logo

Oscar Insurance

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • $0 physician copays

  • Cheapest premiums for bronze and silver plans among top providers

  • Offers the most health management programs

  • Free virtual care within minutes for urgent issues

Cons
  • Low customer experience ratings

Why We Chose It

Out of all the health insurance companies we reviewed, we found that Oscar plans offer the best value. Many of Oscar’s health insurance plans have $0 physician copays for bronze and silver plans, and specialist copays can be as low as $40. Oscar also offers the cheapest premiums for bronze and silver plans of top providers across the ZIP codes reviewed.

In addition to its excellent pricing, Oscar offers a good selection of plans and metal levels. You can choose between an HMO, PPO, or EPO, and plans are available in bronze, silver, gold, and catastrophic categories on the Health Insurance Marketplace or your state exchange. 

Oscar also offers all the health management programs available on healthcare.gov with programs for weight loss, asthma, heart disease, depression, diabetes, pregnancy, low back pain, and pain management. Free virtual care appointments are available for urgent situations within minutes, and you can get dental insurance for children, but Oscar doesn’t have adult dental coverage. 

The main downside: Oscar’s plans get relatively low marks for overall quality. Its average NCQA plan rating is only 2.75 out of 5, which is the lowest score out of the providers that made this list. Even worse, the company’s plans got a 2-star rating from healthcare.gov.

Learn more in our Oscar health insurance review.

Highest Quality Plans : Kaiser Permanente

The Balance's Rating
4.1

Kaiser Permanente

 Kaiser Permanente

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Highest NCQA scores of the plans we evaluated

  • Top rating from healthcare.gov

  • Some plans have children’s dental insurance

  • Free video and phone appointments with most plans

Cons
  • Plans only sold in eight states

  • Few health plan types available

  • No adult dental coverage

Why We Chose It

Kaiser Permanente has the best quality ratings out of the six companies in this list. The company’s average NCQA rating for its plans is 4.28 out of 5, which is the highest out of the companies we reviewed by far.

It’s also the only provider’s plans we researched with perfect 5-star ratings from healthcare.gov, which means that Kaiser Permanente excels in the areas of member experience, medical care, and plan administration. And the company came in first across multiple regions in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Study.

We also like that no-cost video and phone appointments come with most plans. 

But outside of all that, there aren’t many plan options to choose from. Most of Kaiser Permanente’s plans are HMO plans, which means you’re strictly limited to using in-network providers. However, you can choose from a range of coverage levels for ACA plans—minimum coverage, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.

If you want dental insurance for your family, Kaiser may not be the best option. Some plans include dental insurance for children, but no plans include adult dental. In addition, Kaiser Permanente only sells health plans in eight states plus the District of Columbia.

Learn more in our Kaiser Permanente review.

Best for CVS MinuteClinic Access : Aetna/CVS Health

The Balance's Rating
3.7

Aetna CVS Health

Aetna CVS Health

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Members get access to care at CVS MinuteClinics at no or low cost

  • Good selection of plan types

  • Above-average NCQA plans ratings

Cons
  • Dental insurance not included with plans

  • Plans not available nationwide

Why We Chose It

Aetna, which offers health insurance plans through CVS, is an excellent health insurance provider for people who want the convenience of getting medical care at a CVS MinuteClinic.

Aetna members get access to 24/7 virtual care and walk-in visits at more than 1,100 MinuteClinic locations around the country. You may also be able to get $0 preventive care and $0 virtual care through MinuteClinic with your Aetna health insurance plan. 

Of course, you can get your care from more than just CVS clinics with an Aetna plan. Plan types include HMO, PPO, EPO, and HMO-POS, and coverage falls into the bronze, silver, and gold metal tiers. 

The company’s plans have an average 3.37 NCQA star rating, which is above average and falls in the middle of the pack among the companies we researched.

However, Aetna does not include dental coverage for kids or adults on its plans. In addition, Aetna’s Marketplace plans are not available nationwide, so it’s not an option for everyone.

Learn more in our Aetna review.

Great for Nationwide Coverage : UnitedHealthCare

The Balance's Rating
3.7

UnitedHealthCare

 UnitedHealthCare

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Highest financial strength rating available

  • Dental coverage available for kids and adults, on some plans

  • Offers a variety of short-term insurance plans

Cons
  • No health management programs

  • No PPO plans

  • Higher-than-average premiums

  • Rated below average for customer satisfaction in many regions

Why We Chose It

UnitedHealthcare is a solid health insurance provider with superior financial strength. It has an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best, which is the second-highest score possible and highest score among the companies we reviewed. While the company offers coverage in all 50 states and Washington D.C., marketplace plans are not available in all areas. 

UnitedHealthcare offers some nice options for meeting various needs, including dental coverage for children and adults on some plans, as well as short-term coverage, student insurance, and coverage aimed at people who are self-employed. 

But if you want a PPO plan, UnitedHealthcare is not the provider for you. It generally offers only HMO and EPO plans. It’s also lacking any health management programs for particular medical conditions. And the company’s premiums are among the highest of the companies we gathered quotes for. One other note of caution: In many regions, UnitedHealthcare is rated below average by J.D. Power for overall customer satisfaction, which indicates there may be issues with factors like call center interactions and billing.

Final Verdict

Our top choice for all-around quality is Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). It’s widely available through dozens of regional companies, has a broad selection of plans, and some plans have dental coverage for children or adults. Plus, BCBS gets good marks for quality and customer experience from the NCQA. 

But if customer satisfaction ratings are the most important factor for you and you’re interested in an HMO, see if Kaiser is available in your area. For the budget-conscious, Oscar is worth considering, And Aetna could be the right provider if you like the convenience of being covered for visits to CVS MinuteClinics. UnitedHealth is also a solid contender with a wide presence. 

Ultimately, you’ll need to make your decision based on what’s right for your needs and available in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Is Open Enrollment for Health Insurance?

Open enrollment for health insurance starts on November 1 and ends on January 15. During this time, you can purchase a health insurance plan from the Health Insurance Marketplace that will take effect during the new calendar year. If you enroll in a health insurance plan by December 15, your coverage will begin on January 1.

To purchase a marketplace health insurance plan during open enrollment, you must be a U.S. citizen who is living in the U.S. and is not incarcerated. If you are eligible for Medicare, note that open enrollment for Medicare (October 15 to December 7) is different from open enrollment for marketplace plans. Also, if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you can enroll at any point during the year.

How Much Is Health Insurance?

Your health insurance premium—the amount you pay every month—depends on a variety of different factors, including your age, location, plan type, dependents, and tobacco use. Your out-of-pocket costs, such as your deductible, will also impact your monthly premium. 

The provider and the specific plan impact your premium, too. All health insurance plans sold on the marketplace must cover 10 essential health benefits (EHBs), including outpatient care, hospitalization, emergency services, and mental health care. Extra benefits can cause a plan to be more expensive. 

If you qualify for a subsidy such as the Advanced Premium Tax Credit, that may lower the cost of your health insurance. But because the premium tax credit can only be used to pay the EHB, even if you get a tax credit, you’ll still be responsible for the costs of the non-EHB benefits.

To find the cheapest health insurance, it’s important to compare quotes from a few different providers.

Which Is the Best Health Insurance?

Based on our review, we determined that BCBS has the best health insurance plans. BCBS stands out for its excellent ratings, low premiums, and wide selection of plans. 

However, the best health insurance company for you is the one that meets your unique requirements. Shop around to find a provider that offers coverage for the medical services you need and the prescription drugs you take at a price that fits your budget.

What Is the Premium Tax Credit?

The Premium Tax Credit (PTC) helps eligible low-income individuals and families lower their health insurance premiums. To get the PTC, you must purchase a Marketplace health insurance plan and have income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level. You can use the credit in advance to lower the cost of your premiums, but if you end up making more income that year than you originally forecast, you’ll have to pay some of the credit back when you file your tax return.

Methodology

We researched and evaluated a range of criteria across multiple categories to determine the best health insurance companies for 2023 and establish star ratings. The categories we considered are below. The percentage next to each category indicates how important it is to the overall star rating.

  • Customer satisfaction (20%): NCQA ratings and healthcare.gov ratings were used to indicate plan quality and member satisfaction. 
  • State availability (15%): The number of states plans are available in.
  • Plan features (40%): These criteria fell into multiple subcategories, including:
  • Types of plans (5%): HMO, PPO, EPO, POS, and other plan types
  • Plan benefits (20%): Additional benefits, such as programs to help manage asthma, heart disease, depression, diabetes, pain, high cholesterol and blood pressure, pregnancy, low back pain, and weight loss
  • Dental coverage (10%): Coverage for child dental, adult dental, both, or neither
  • Metal levels (5%): Whether Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and catastrophic plans are available.
  • Cost to value (25%): We considered physician copays, specialist copays, monthly premiums, and deductibles for bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and catastrophic plans across different age groups across two ZIP codes, representing the highest enrollment in ACA plans by state.

For further detail, please read our complete methodology page.

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