Do you often find yourself overwhelmed by the complexities of health insurance in the United States?
Your health insurance plan has a huge impact on what doctors and care you can afford. But the number of different plans is staggering, and their varying benefits and drawbacks can be hard to understand. Health insurance is full of jargon regarding premiums, deductibles, copays, in-plan and out-of-plan care, and rules for referrals and specialists.
The top health insurance providers in the US are nationwide companies with flexible plans that can suit a variety of budgets and health needs. We've reviewed the top options.
Top 5: Health Insurance Companies Review
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If you live in the United States, there's a pretty good chance that you've heard of Blue Cross Blue Shield. Not only does the company have one of the largest nationwide healthcare presences in the country, but it is also present in over 170 countries throughout the globe.
In the United States, this insurance company is the overarching owner of 36 different health insurance providers. That means that over 106 total Americans are insured through this provider, even if they appear to have a more niche company on their insurance card.
One of the biggest selling points of this company is that regardless of which subsidiary you purchase insurance through, there are flexible plans that can be tailored to suit people from all different income levels and backgrounds.
Flexible Spending Account options are available for people who need health insurance for their family but can't afford a huge monthly payment. This account lets you save tax-free money that applies toward your insurance deductible and other insurance expenses.
A Health Savings Account option is also available. This functions similarly to the other account option, including the choice to deduct payments from your paychecks. But rather than paying for insurance plan expenses, the money covers actual medical costs.
If employers want to give their employees some health benefits but don't have the resources to offer full health insurance coverage, they might use a Health Reimbursement Arrangement plan. This allows for the employer to determine an amount of money that will be given to employees to cover their specialized medical expenses.
Health Maintenance Organization plans are among the most popular for individuals and families. These are low cost insurance coverage plans, but the caveat is that you can only be covered by providers within the specified network. Your insurance won't cover out-of-network costs.
One of the most unusual things about how Kaiser Permanente functions is that it doesn't operate like a traditional health insurance company. With a normal health insurance policy, you purchase coverage that lets you see doctors in certain networks for a reduced or fully covered fee.
On the surface, this insurance company is set up in the same way. But the biggest difference is that the insurance provider is set up with a network of Kaiser medical centers and hospitals that are specifically staffed by specialists who have been vetted by the insurance company.
This basically means that whenever you receive care, you're being treated by a professional who has been personally chosen and hired by your insurance provider. In doing so, a lot of the insurance coverage process becomes more streamlined. You don't have to jump through hoops to get doctor approvals and specialist referrals.
The company has been operating since 1945. Today, there's a presence in nine states: Ohio, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, Hawaii, California, Virginia, Georgia, and Colorado. In addition, the company has insurance plans and medical centers available in the District of Columbia.
The technical term for this type of structure is a managed care organization. Managed care organizations take care of hiring medical professionals, covering medical costs, and matching people with the right specialists to treat their conditions. Kaiser is the largest of these organizations in the United States.
In fact, there are nearly forty medical centers that function similarly to hospitals. There are also over 600 medical offices for varying providers. Over 14,000 doctors are part of the managed care network, so you have access to a wide range of options.
More than eight million health policies are issued through this company, and there's a strong customer satisfaction rating among clients.
This Unitedhealthcare health insurance company is a large healthcare network with a nationwide presence in the United States. When directly compared to other industry leaders, the healthcare plan prices tend to be a little higher. However, the company is unparalleled when it comes to online services and plan flexibility.
Individuals can select from a number of different HMO or PPO plans. HMO plans are more inexpensive, but they limit the doctors you can see to in-network only. PPO plans cost a little more, but they allow you to visit providers and specialists outside of the immediate network.
Multiple resources are given to each individual consumer. When you access your personal account through the online portal, you can do virtual visits, contact your providers, access your health information and test results, and download important resources and programs.
In fact, the company has been deemed one of the most user-friendly health insurance companies in the country thanks to the streamlined online and mobile apps. Around 115 million individuals receive insurance through this provider.
On the main website, you can find different insurance plans with information about deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, premiums, and other benefits or restrictions.
Aetna is one of the oldest names in the health insurance industry, having been founded all the way back in 1853. The company has a presence in all fifty states selling multiple insurance products including health, pharmacy, dental, Medicaid, group life, and disability insurance policies.
The company covers about eighteen million health insurance policies for subscribers every year. On top of that, there are eight million annual pharmacy policies and thirteen million annual dental policies, which are separate plans.
The insurance provider utilizes a network made up of more than one million healthcare workers and employs more than 35,000 people.
You can shop for a policy online and find optometrists, dentists, and doctors covered under your network. Once you've purchased a plan, you can manage every aspect of it online. That means viewing the details of your policy, comparing costs of different medical procedures, tracking your deductible, and storing your health information.
Also available is a mobile insurance application that allows you to use your smartphone to manage your account and view your health records. A 24/7 nurse line is available for policy holders to give advice regarding medical questions.
Aetna's plans include family, individual, employer-based, and Medicare options.
Rather than just functioning as a national health insurance company, Cigna is a health services provider with a global presence. More than 35,000 individuals are employed in over thirty countries. By using the company's subsidiaries, you can purchase a variety of insurance policies including disability, accident, life, dental, and medical insurance.
All members of the network have access to a national call center that's open 24/7. This service has received customer service and satisfaction awards for multiple consecutive years.
Multiple types of health policies are available. With the PPO plans, you'll save more by using an in-network provider but can still see out-of-network doctors as well. HMO plans cover only in-network care. The company also helps people set up HSAs. The "Open Network" plan allows you to purchase a traditional insurance policy.
Enrolling online gives you access to a user portal that lets you view and pay bills, view the status and details of your claims, find providers in your network, and get your insurance ID card information. The same features are accessible through the company's mobile app.
All five of these insurance providers have incredible strengths and potential drawbacks. For total overall coverage, we have to go with Blue Cross Blue Shield. It's one of the largest providers in the US and has tons of different plan options to suit any potential need.
If you want a company that will let you purchase separate vision, dental, and medical health insurance policies, Aetna has a number of different provider networks and available plans.
Kaiser Permanente is the best choice if you want a company that employs its own healthcare professionals rather than having you go out-of-network. This streamlines the process and takes the headache out of getting insurance claims approved. But the organization only has a presence in nine states plus Washington DC, so it might not be available to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Find the Best Health Insurance?
If you already know your budget, you can go to the healthcare marketplace and view policies from different companies side by side. Find the one within your price range that provides the level of care you need at costs you can afford.
What Is a Deductible?
A deductible is the predetermined amount of money you have to pay out-of-pocket for your healthcare before your insurance company begins covering costs. Typically, the lower your monthly premiums, the higher your deductible.
What Is a Copay?
Copays are similar to deductibles. These are out-of-pocket costs you pay for every appointment or medical procedure you undergo. A health insurance plan will typically have a fixed copay rate that you can expect to remain the same at every doctor's office.