The 12 top health insurance companies, reviewed!
There’s a difference between health insurance companies and health insurance plans. When you sign up for health insurance, you’re actually joining one of many plans that are sold by a health insurance company. Luckily, the best health insurers have different plans to suit all sorts of folks.
The top 12 health insurance companies make up just over 50 percent of revenue in the American health insurance market. They collect roughly $515 billion in premiums – the monthly price you pay to stay on a plan – each year. You can decide which health insurer is best.
The top health insurance companies are:
1. UnitedHealth Group – 12.9% of healthcare
- Owns dozens of insurers – such as Golden Rule Insurance and Oxford – and health providers like OptumRX and DaVita.
- Lists a network size of “859,890 health care professionals”.
- Encourages members with Rally, a social-network like platform that promotes healthy choices.
- Our graphic designer says – “their logo is shaped like a shield, so that makes me think it’s trustworthy.”
- J.D. Power ranking: highest overall experience rating in Arizona; highest rating, “among the best”, for provider choice in Texas.
- A.M. Best rating: bbb+ (Good)
- View UnitedHealth Insurance Plans
2. Kaiser Permanente – 7.5% of healthcare
- Kaiser Permanente is made up of health systems. As the largest HMO in the country, they maintain their own doctors offices and hospitals.
- You visit Kaiser’s company-owned doctors and facilities in exchange for increased efficiency.
- Per our design expert: “their logo is very old school. The lines inside are so thin that you can’t see them from far away!”
- J.D. Power ranking: Highest overall experience in California, Colorado, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, South Atlantic region, Virginia. KP is the only company to win in highest overall experience in more than one region.
- A.M. Best rating: NR (not rated)
- View Kaiser Permanente Health Insurance Plans
3. Anthem – 6.2% of healthcare
- Formerly known as WellPoint, Anthem is the largest operator of Blue Cross Blue Shield networks.
- Also owns DeCare Dental, CareMore, HealthSun, and other plans.
- Served over 40 million members in 2017.
- According to our graphic designer: “I like the fact that they use serif font, because it’s very honest and simple.”
- J.D. Power ranking: highest overall experience rating in Massachusetts; highest rating for provider choice in Colorado, Ohio and Virginia; highest rating for coverage and benefits in Connecticut, Maine, Missouri, and Ohio.
- AM Best rating: bbb+ (Good)
- View Anthem Health Insurance Plans
4. Aetna – 5.6% of healthcare
- Aetna has agreed to merge with CVS as of December 2017. It’s unclear when this will take place, or what an Aetna-CVS will look like. Experts expect more locations will open up for members to get care.
- Founded in 1853, and a major company ever since.
- Aetna’s network has over 664,000 doctors and specialists.
- Our designer says: “their logo is my favorite. It’s modern and has nice subtleties – I love how the a flows into the e.”
- J.D. Power ranking: highest customer service, claims processing, and communication ratings in Florida; highest claims processing and customer service rating in New Jersey.
- A.M. Best rating: bbb (good)
- View Aetna Health Insurance Plans
5. Humana – 5.5% of healthcare
- Humana does not sell individual health insurance plans through the ACA.
- Only major health insurer based in the south (Louisville, Kentucky).
- Publicly supports the accountable care payment model, in which doctors are given bonuses for keeping patients healthy.
- According to our graphic designer: “their logo is a weird font but it’s recognizable.”
- J.D. Power ranking: best overall experience rating in Texas; best coverage and benefits in Ohio; best communication in Illinois and Indiana.
- A.M. Best rating: bbb- (Good)
- View Humana Health Insurance Plans
6. Health Care Service Corporation – 3.6% of healthcare
- HCSC is the Blue Cross Blue Shield provider for Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- HCSC’s network includes 233,000 health providers across 5 states.
- Received 2016 “World’s Most Ethical Companies” award from the Ethisphere Institute.
- With nearly 15 million members, HCSC is the largest non-investor owned health insurer.
- J.D. Power ranking: highest overall experience rating for Illinois; highest customer service rating in Florida.
- A.M. Best rating: a+ (excellent)
- View HCSC Health Insurance Plans
7. Centene – 2.6% of healthcare
- Centene’s family of companies includes Ambetter and Health Net. In 2017, Centene announced it would acquire New York-based Fidelis Care.
- Centene counts over 12 million members. They’ve had the same CEO since 1996.
- Centene’s CentAccount program gives small payments to eligible members for getting a free wellness checkup or cancer screenings.
- Centene offers health plans in a number of “bare” counties in Nevada, Washington, and elsewhere where all other insurers stopped selling individual Obamacare plans.
- A.M. Best rating: not rated
- View Centene Health Insurance Plans
8. Cigna – 2.5% of healthcare
- Almost bought by Aetna in 2015, but ended up as an independent company.
- According to our graphic designer: “A person with a tree growing? So, natural and friendly?”
- J.D. Power ranking: highest overall experience rating in Florida; highest rating for claims processing in Colorado, Maryland and Virginia; highest communication rating in New Jersey, New Mexico, Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Nevada; highest coverage and benefits rating in Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
- A.M. Best rating: bbb (good)
- View Cigna Health Insurance Plans
9. Molina – 1.8% of healthcare
- Founded in the 1980s to bring care to underserved communities, Molina generally offers Medicaid coverage.
- Molina serves over 3.5 million members, all under the Molina name.
- Operates its own medical clinics in fifteen states and Puerto Rico.
- According to our graphic designer: “Check out the use of negative space. I enjoy the graphic – there’s a hidden ‘M’ there.”
- A.M. Best rating: NR (not rated).
- View Molina Health Insurance Plans
10. Independence Health Group – 1.8% of healthcare
- Operates as Blue Cross Blue Shield in multiple states.
- AmeriHealth and Tandigm are also part of the IHG family of companies.
- IHG reports that their members had over 19,000 babies in 2016.
- According to our graphic designer: “Classic Blue Cross. That graphic looks very sure of itself.”
- IHG companies serve more than 8.3 million people.
- IHG’s provider network includes more than 42,000 health professionals.
- Independence Blue Cross cardholders can ice skate for free at the Blue Cross RiverRink in Philadelphia.
- View Independence Health Group Insurance Plans
11. Blue Shield of California – 1.7% of healthcare
- Over 4 million members in California alone.
- Nonprofit company originally established by California physicians.
- Also operates Care1st in Texas and Arizona.
- Minimizes their net income to 2%, “investing or returning the difference to customers and communities”. Blue California has returned over $560 million under this policy.
- Won a 2017 Human Rights Campaign “best workplace” award.
- According to our graphic designer “It’s trying to be like a startup, with lowercase letters and a stylized name.”
- AM Best rating: a (excellent)
- View Blue California Health Insurance Plans
12. Highmark – 1.6% of healthcare
- Highmark provides health insurance to over 5 million people in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia.
- Owns Visionworks chain of glasses stores, but just sold Davis Vision.
- Fills cavities in 50 states through United Concordia Dental.
- 77,000 physicians are a part of Highmark’s networks.
- According to our graphic designer: “what is the A doing? What is that swoop? But I know what they’re called, now.”
- J.D. Power ranking: highest overall experience rating in Delaware; highest customer service rating in West Virginia.
- AM Best rating: a- (excellent)
- View Highmark Health Insurance Plans
Another 113 companies split most of the remaining American health insurance market.
Each of these companies will offer multiple different plans. They generally have to offer different plans in different states. They’ll even have doctors that participate in some of their plans but not others.
You can compare health insurance plans by looking at several different features – including:
- Coinsurance – the percentage of care that you pay for on your own.
- Deductibles – how much you contribute entirely on your own before your insurance begins to pay for care.
- Out-of-pocket maximum – once you spend this amount, your plan pays 100 percent of costs.
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- Our list of top health insurance plans is sorted by market share. Market share is determined by total health insurance premiums collected in the U.S. This research comes from the most recent annual report of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
- J.D. Power ratings are from the 2017 J.D. Power Member Health Plan Study, an annual survey of over 30,000 people across the United States.
- A.M. Best ratings are publicly available through ambest.com. A.M. Best rates the strength of insurance companies to see if they can pay their expenses in the future.
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