Few things are less appealing than the thought of shopping for health insurance. What’s available in my area? What do they cover? What’s my copayment? How outrageously high is the deductible?
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Despite the daunting number of options and all the complexity involved, there’s one fact that simplifies the entire process — the “best” health insurance company depends on you, your household and what you’re looking to get out of your insurance provider.
Here’s a look at the best companies according to the criteria that most households care about.
BCBS Is Tops for Reach, Network Size and Accessibility
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Network is a consortium of 35 companies that cover every single zip code in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The BCBS network includes 1.7 million doctors and hospitals across the world — more than any other insurer — including 90% of all providers nationwide.
Together, the BCBS companies cover more than 110 million members — that’s about one-third of the country — including 17 million union workers, retirees and their families and half of all federal employees. With 5.6 million members, the BCBS Federal Employee Program is the largest healthcare plan in the world. In the private sector, 88 of the Fortune 100 companies provide health coverage through BCBS and the network covers 7 million people who work for small businesses.
BCBS is hardly the only game in town. If you’re looking for a company with a giant network and an endless list of providers, the following insurers are also excellent bets:
- United Healthcare: With 70 million members, United is the largest health insurance company in America — nearly double the size of No. 2 Anthem, according to Statista — and it’s the largest by revenue, too. What does that mean for you? With 1.3 million providers and 6,500 hospitals, United gives you access to one of the largest provider networks in the country and the world.
- Cigna: Cigna has 1.5 million providers in its network — approaching BCBS numbers — which means you won’t have trouble finding a healthcare professional you like. Its 67,000-plus contracted pharmacies include 99% of all pharmacies in America.
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Choose Aetna If You’re More Concerned With Customer Satisfaction
Healthline currently ranks Aetna as having the best customer satisfaction rates in the industry, thanks to features like convenient walk-in care options, access to telehealth services, free screenings and $0 MinuteClinic visits. Healthline also rates Aetna’s online customer service platforms as the best on the market.
When Forbes ranked the best insurance companies of 2022, Aetna took top billing. Here, too, the reasons largely dealt with customer satisfaction — things like the company’s large network of 1.2 million providers and 5,700 hospitals, and the inclusion of services like holistic treatment and lifestyle services like smoking cessation, counseling and life coaching.
If you’re looking for a company that keeps its members happy, these providers also trade on their reputations for excellent customer satisfaction:
- Humana: Both the research firm Forrester and the analytics firm Verint place Humana in the top three in terms of customer satisfaction in major industry studies — the Forrester study included data from 85,000 customers.
- United Healthcare: United ranked at the very top of the Verint study, which was based on 260 data points for every health insurance provider.
United Leads the Pack of Providers With Good Mental Health Coverage
During the pandemic, health insurance companies began placing a greater emphasis on mental health coverage. VeryWellMind conducted independent research on the best health insurance companies for mental health and asked healthcare professionals to review the findings.
The results found that United Healthcare is at the top of the list, thanks to offerings like a 24/7 emotional support hotline, telehealth, talk space online therapy and treatment for substance abuse and gambling, including both inpatient and outpatient services.
United ranked at the top, but it’s not in a class by itself. These providers earned marks that were nearly as high:
- Kaiser Permanente: Kaiser gets high marks for covering mental health services without referrals, personalized treatment plans, and for covering a range of treatments and care, including therapy, counseling, addiction and recovery support, help with eating disorders, suicide prevention, depression and anxiety.
- Cigna: Cigna ranks high for its 24/7 nurse hotline, round-the-clock mental health virtual care, and its large behavioral health network of licensed mental health providers and inpatient and outpatient services.
These Providers Offer the Lowest Copays
If you’re most concerned with cost — as so many households are — you’ll want a plan with a low copay, although that usually means a higher deductible and the rate you pay varies by state. According to Forbes, the following major health insurance companies, which cover all 50 states, have the lowest available copays:
- Humana: Physician copays start at $0
- Cigna: Physician copays start at $0
- Blue Cross Blue Shield: Physician copays start at $10
- United Healthcare: Physician copays start at $20
- Aetna: Physician copays start at $20
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