Choosing health insurance is a personal and important decision. Check out the top five insurance companies in the United States and see how they stack up to your needs.
Health insurance is a necessity, even if you think you’re healthy. It protects you from financial destruction should you have an accident or unexpectedly fall ill. Even regular doctor appointments can add up, costing you a lot of money out of pocket. No two medical insurance companies offer exactly the same benefits, so understanding what they offer is crucial as you work to choose the insurance company that’s right for you.
1. Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is a managed care program, which means you must see doctors and go to hospitals within the plan. However, the Kaiser Foundation network is large, with more than 20,000 doctors. Their customer service is also exemplary. Residents of the following states are eligible to apply for Kaiser Permanente insurance:
- Washington State
- Washington D.C.
You can choose from four plans including bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. If you choose a high deductible plan, you can also set up an HSA account through Kaiser, which sets aside money for your healthcare expenses before taxes, deducted right from your paycheck.
Kaiser offers affordable premiums, especially for older people, giving you good value for your money. Just be sure you you can find a health care provider within a reasonable distance to your location.
2. Blue Cross Blue Shield
If you prefer a large network that spans the country and even outside of it, Blue Cross Blue Shield(BCBS) is a great health insurance choice. BCBS has the largest number of subscribers and some of the most extensive plan options. You can choose from a managed care plan, such as the HMO or EPO plan, or a more flexible PPO plan that allows you to see a wider range of doctors and hospitals.
Many people opt for the PPO plan because of its extensive options. It’s easy to get ahold of customer support when calling Blue Cross Blue Shield and their support staff provides answers and guidance when choosing plans or even finding doctors. If you choose the PPO plan you are likely to find doctors anywhere you live and/or travel that accept the medical insurance, helping to minimize your financial costs.
BCBS does offer both the FSA account and the HSA account. You fund both accounts with pre-tax dollars (deducted from your paycheck before you owe taxes). You can use the FSA account funds to cover insurance premiums as well as other health-related expenses. The HSA funds are strictly for qualifying medical expenses that you incur after going to the doctor or hospital.
Blue Cross Blue Shield typically has higher premiums than other providers, but their programs come with a wealth of services. Make sure you’ll utilize the BCBS service to its fullest before choosing this option and paying the higher premiums.
3. United Healthcare
United Healthcare, a component of UnitedHealth Group, is one of the largest insurance companies in the United States. Like Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare offers managed care plans and PPOs. United Healthcare also offers the standout feature of United Healthcare online tools including ordering/managing prescriptions online, talking with a nurse before going to the doctor (online), as well as access to various resources including wellness programs. In fact, UHC’s online programs are the reason many people choose it.
United Healthcare’s website and mobile app are rated the most user-friendly out of any insurance company in the United States. United Healthcare’s plans include access to both the FSA and HSA for further savings. Members also have access to discounts for vital medical items and programs, such as hearing aids or smoking cessation programs.
Because of its large number of resources, expect to pay higher premiums for UHC insurance, but if online health resources are important to you, it may be worth it.
Aetna is another well-established insurance company with a great reputation. Aetna is an employer-sponsored company, which means you may get plans through your employer. They also offer a few individual plans. Aetna offers similar programs as BCBS and UHC with both HMO and PPO plans available.
Aetna’s network has more than one million provider options and provides coverage for all standard healthcare including preventative and non-preventative care. Aetna’s customer service ranks high and their website is user-friendly even when just starting out to get a quote. Once a member, you’ll have access to online resources and help when you have healthcare-related questions. Like most plans, Aetna has an HSA option for high deductible plans.
If lower premiums are a necessity for you, Aetna offers below-average premium costs, giving you good value for your money. With a wide range of options, people of all levels of health and insurance needs may find an affordable option with Aetna.
Cigna offers insurance in 10 states throughout the country including:
- North Carolina
Cigna’s network is smaller than other insurance providers, but it still has a nice half of a million providers available. You’ll receive the greatest benefits by staying within the Cigna network which is smaller. If you go outside of the network, you may need a referral and you will pay more out of your own pocket as the insurance benefits decrease outside of the network.
CIGNA does offer a variety of plans including managed care and PPO plans as well as high-deductible plans with the HSA option. Cigna’s online platform makes it easy to self-serve your insurance needs without accessing customer service. Additionally, Cigna offers a tele-health connection program that gives you access to board-certified practitioners over the phone or Internet. These tele-health practitioners can answer your health or insurance questions and help you decide if an in-person medical visit is necessary
As far as cost, Cigna is one of the more affordable companies, but it may come with a little sacrifice as far as the coverage you receive. Make sure you know the full impact of the coverage options you have and determine how they’ll affect you financially given your current health situation.
Choosing the right health insurance company is a personal decision. You’re buying coverage to help you financially as well as help you feel at ease with your healthcare options. Look at the big picture when choosing your healthcare company – don’t focus on price alone as many factors play into what your medical insurance company provides.