Our annual list of the best health insurance companies for 2019 was updated today.
This popular review roundup contains important facts about the largest health insurance companies in America.
Despite most companies changing in size and A.M. Best financial strength, there was only one position change on our rankings (which are based on market share) — Humana and Aetna switched positions (now #3 and #4, respectively).
We’ve noticed a few other nationwide changes that have taken place between 2018 and 2019.
Health Insurers Grew Larger
The largest companies became much larger, mirroring the economic progress of healthcare across the country. Plan revenue from the same group of major companies we reviewed rose from $515 billion to $552 billion in one year.
While there are still hundreds of active health insurers, these large companies took a greater share of the market. The market size of the top 12 companies rose from 50 percent to nearly 53 percent in one year. UnitedHealthcare was the largest example of provider consolidation, moving from 12.9 to 13.3 percent of the market.
After a few years of unsuccessful combinations, major mergers have been pushed through. Most notably, Aetna was purchased by CVS Health. Blue California and Centene absorbed smaller subsidiaries, and Molina expanded its service footprint.
There hasn’t been significant news about the mysterious but much-hyped company formed by Amazon-J.P. Morgan-Berkshire Hathaway. Whatever these giants cook up is still a few years away.
Some Well-Known Insurers Don’t Really Matter to Individuals
You might expect to see Aflac and Wellcare on our list due to size and market presence. However, these companies don’t offer individual health insurance. Wellcare provides Medicare and Medicaid plans, but none that you can purchase.
We decided to include Humana on our list since many people have Humana plans. Most people looking for insurance can’t get Humana on their own without going through an employer.
More Ratings Are In Play
We were excited to add ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) into our methodology for the first time this year.
NCQA provides ratings, not rankings. Instead of comparing plans head-to-head, NCQA provides a meaningful quality checklist. Hopefully every plan achieves high ratings for member care.
NCQA ratings are focused more on appropriateness of care than on consumer satisfaction, offering another set of facts for our health insurance companies list. NCQA’s takes accreditation and cutting-edge care standards into account. Their 300+ person staff has access to a great deal of sensitive data to see whether plans are working. Their ratings measure things like the rate of follow-ups after certain chronic illnesses, or whether an appropriate medicine was prescribed after a cold, averaged across plan members.
We’ve used NCQA’s tools to give you another look at their data – namely, which companies excel on a state-by-state basis.
Our other ratings saw churn as well. While Kaiser Permanente dominated the quality ratings we found last year, we were happy to see more companies share accolades for 2019.
Health Insurance in 2019
Additional companies are offering expanded health plans in 2019 after pulling back a bit too far in recent years. As such, 2019 health insurance prices are lower and more plans are available. Laws around short-term plans have been relaxed, allowing some folks access to a whole new range of coverage options. And our health insurer list is brand new.
If you’re getting health insurance on your own, now is the best time in years to check your coverage.
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