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 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 about 50 percent of revenue in the American health insurance market. They collect roughly $552 billion in premiums – the monthly price you pay to stay on a plan – each year. You can decide which health insurer is best.
Our best health insurance companies are:
1. Kaiser Permanente – 8.1% 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. You can’t see the lines inside from far away!”
- J.D. Power ranking: highest overall experience in California, Colorado, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, South Atlantic region, Virginia. KP has more wins than any other company this year.
- NCQA rating: KP’s Maryland-Virginia offering was one of 2 plans out of 445 nationwide to receive a perfect score from NCQA. Of competing plans, Kaiser’s rating was also #1 overall in Colorado, Georgia, Oregon, Washington; and tied in California and Hawaii.
- A.M. Best rating: NR (not rated)
- View Kaiser Permanente Health Insurance Plans
2. Anthem – 6.2% of health insurance
- 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 2018.
- According to our graphic designer: “I like the fact that they use serif font, because it’s very honest and simple.”
- NCQA rating: highest overall in Connecticut and Indiana. Tied for #1 in Maine.
- J.D. Power ranking: highest overall experience rating in Connecticut, Nevada and Ohio.
- A.M. Best financial rating: a+ (Excellent)
- View Anthem Health Insurance Plans
3. Humana – 5.1% of healthcare
- Humana does not sell individual health insurance plans through the ACA. They focus on employer plans and Medicare.
- Largest 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.”
- NCQA rating: tied for highest overall in Kentucky and Tennessee.
- A.M. Best rating: bbb- (Good)
- View Humana Health Insurance Plans
4. Aetna – 5% of healthcare
- Aetna was purchased by CVS in November 2018 for $69 billion. The two companies have not yet combined operations. 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 700,000 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.”
- NCQA rating: tied for highest overall rating in Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, South Carolina, and Utah.
- A.M. Best rating: bbb (good)
- View Aetna Health Insurance Plans
5. Health Care Service Corporation – 3% of healthcare
- HCSC is the Blue Cross Blue Shield provider for Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- HCSC’s network includes 257,000 health providers across 5 states.
- Received 2017 “World’s Most Ethical Companies” award from the Ethisphere Institute.
- With nearly 15 million members, HCSC is America’s largest customer-owned health insurer.
- Deeply focused on access to vaccines. HCSC covered 4.1 million immunizations for its members and provided 141,000 more as charity care.
- A.M. Best rating: a+ (excellent)
- View HCSC Health Insurance Plans
6. Centene – 2.8% of healthcare
- Centene’s family of companies includes Ambetter, Buckeye and Health Net.
- In 2017, Centene became the largest provider of ACA health insurance after buying New York’s Fidelis Care.
- Centene counts over 14 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 and Washington where all other insurers stopped selling individual Obamacare plans.
- NCQA rating: tied for highest overall rating in Arizona.
- A.M. Best rating: not rated
- View Centene Health Insurance Plans
7. 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?”
- Provides 24/7/365 customer service across 22 U.S. call centers.
- Operates a separate always-open veteran support line for members and non-members.
- J.D. Power ranking: highest overall experience rating in Delaware, West Virginia, and D.C.
- NCQA rating: tied for highest overall in Arizona and Missouri.
- A.M. Best rating: bbb (good)
- View Cigna Health Insurance Plans
8. Molina – 1.9% of healthcare
- Founded in the 1980s to bring Medicaid to underserved communities, Molina has become a major provider of ACA marketplace plans.
- 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
9. Independence Health Group – 1.6% of healthcare
- Operates as Blue Cross Blue Shield in multiple states.
- AmeriHealth and Tandigm are also part of the IBX family of companies.
- IBX 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.”
- IBX companies serve more than 8.3 million people.
- IBX’s provider network includes more than 46,000 health professionals. Some plans tap into 760,000 additional Blue Cross doctors.
- Independence Blue Cross cardholders can ice skate for free at the Blue Cross RiverRink in Philadelphia.
- View Independence Health Group Insurance Plans
10. Blue Shield of California – 1.6% of healthcare
- Over 4 million members in California alone.
- Nonprofit company originally established by California physicians.
- Absorbed most plans from Care1st in 2018, renaming them as Promise Health.
- 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
11. GuideWell – 1.5% of healthcare
- GuideWell runs Florida Blue and Capital Health Plans in the U.S., and First Coast Service in Puerto Rico.
- Converted from a for-profit to a not-for-profit in 2013, saying they’d rather focus on preventive care than paying bills.
- Longtime supporter of hurricane recovery, swimming education, and other local needs.
- 70 percent of GuideWell’s employees are women.
- According to our graphic designer: “the G and W stand out. Their mission takes up a lot of your attention.”
- NCQA ranking: #1 overall in Florida.
- AM Best rating: a- (excellent)
- View GuideWell Health Insurance Plans
12. Highmark – 1.4% 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 via 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: historically strong in Delaware and West Virginia.
- NCQA ranking: #1 overall in Delaware and Pennsylvania; tied for #1 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 best health insurance companies is based on market share, as reported annually to NAIC. Market share is determined by total health insurance premiums collected in the U.S.
- J.D. Power ratings are from the 2018 J.D. Power Member Health Plan Study, an annual survey of over 30,000 people across the United States, with some research from 2017.
- NCQA ratings are primarily based on treatment outcomes. The National Committee for Quality Assurance is an independent non-profit which assesses the quality of health programs.
- 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.