Best Health Insurance Companies of 2024 (2024)

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Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is our pick for the best overall health insurance provider due to its significant provider network, widespread nationwide availability, good-value silver ACA plans, and numerous plan options.

Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) established national standards for health insurance plans, BCBS and a few other insurers stand out from the pack when it comes to delivering quality and value. To choose 2024’s best companies, we evaluated 27 criteria across nine significant health insurance companies. Our review included cost, types of plans available, customer satisfaction, plan benefits, and state availability.

National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) annual ratings guided our plan quality and customer satisfaction evaluations. As a private nonprofit organization, NCQA weighs health plans for patient care quality, patient satisfaction, and improvement efforts.

Best Health Insurance Companies of 2024

Best Health Insurance Companies

Best Health Insurance Companies

  • Our Top Picks
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Oscar
  • Aetna CVS Health
  • See More (1)
  • The Bottom Line

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Methodology

Best Overall : Blue Cross Blue Shield

The Balance's Rating

4.8

Best Health Insurance Companies of 2024 (1)

  • Availability: 36 states
  • NCQA Rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars
  • Additional Features: Best-value silver plans

Why We Chose It

Blue Cross Blue Shield features various high-quality, affordable health insurance plans nationwide. Strong consumer ratings help make it our top pick as the best overall health insurance provider.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Best silver plan costs

  • Nationwide provider network

  • Wide choice of plan types and metal levels

Cons

  • Patchwork of companies provides different experiences

Overview

Blue Cross Blue Shield takes home our award for all-around favorite due to its substantial availability and networks, relatively low costs, and the buffet of plans and metal types available.

BCBS enrollees live in all 50 states. BCBS boasts one of the largest provider networks overall, with 1.7 million providers. More than 90% of U.S. physicians accept plans from the carrier, providing robust coverage when you travel within the country.

BCBS also won our best overall cost score, which we calculated using price quotes across various age groups and metal tiers. We reviewed premiums, deductibles, and copays to determine the cost score. If you seek a silver ACA plan, you’re in luck because BCBS offers the best premium and deductible scores for silver plans of the companies we evaluated. BCBS has the best prices for 60-year-olds based on the quotes we gathered.

However, plans vary by region—BCBS is an insurance network comprising dozens of smaller entities. This can make it challenging to evaluate qualities like plan quality or customer satisfaction. But when we averaged the NCQA scores of several plans, BCBS emerged with an average NCQA rating of 3.59 out of 5 stars, second only to Kaiser on this list. Still, your specific plan’s NCQA score may vary.

BCBS’s range of plan types is among the widest offered by top insurance providers. In addition to often affordable but provider-restrictive health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, BCBS offers preferred provider organization (PPO) plans, exclusive provider organization (EPO) plans, and point-of-service (POS) plans.

You can choose from four metal levels (bronze, silver, gold, platinum) and catastrophic coverage, which is reserved for people under 30 or those who qualify for hardship or affordability exemptions.

Highest Quality Plans : Kaiser Permanente

The Balance's Rating

3.9

Best Health Insurance Companies of 2024 (2)

  • Availability: 8 states and the District of Columbia
  • NCQA Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars
  • Additional Features: Lowest premiums across three age groups and two metal groups

Why We Chose It

We chose Kaiser Permanente for highest quality plans, thanks to its extraordinary customer satisfaction and quality rating. Kaiser’s well-priced premiums and deductibles make the insurer an even better option.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Highest customer satisfaction ratings

  • Lowest premium and deductible scores for those under 60

  • Lowest premiums for bronze and gold plans

Cons

  • Most plans restrict you to Kaiser clinics

  • Limited nationwide availability

Overview

Kaiser Permanente’s quality and customer satisfaction score is incredibly strong compared to all of the other providers we reviewed. Kaiser’s plans achieve an average 4.2-star rating from the NCQA across various regions.

It’s one of only two commercial health insurers to achieve a 5-star NCQA rating (in the mid-Atlantic region of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.). The company also came in first and second across multiple U.S. regions in the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Commercial Health Plan Study.

Kaiser is also great for people looking for lower premiums and deductibles. For a broad age range (25-, 35-, and 45-year-olds), Kaiser offered the best premium-and-deductible costs. The insurer also scores best for its premium and deductible costs when looking at two metal categories of plans (bronze and gold).

But on the downside, Kaiser Permanente is only available in eight states and the District of Columbia. The insurer’s HMO plans typically restrict care to in-network providers and clinics. However, Kaiser Permanente offers plans in four metal levels plus catastrophic coverage. So you’ll have pricing options—as long as you want an HMO in a state the insurer serves.

Most Health Management Programs : Oscar

The Balance's Rating

3.8

Best Health Insurance Companies of 2024 (3)

  • Availability: 18 states
  • NCQA Rating: 2.75 out of 5 stars
  • Additional Features: Good copays

Why We Chose It

Oscar is our pick for health management programs, thanks to the wide variety of programs available.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Expansive list of health management programs

  • Best physician copay costs across silver and bronze plans

  • Earn up to $100 annually in step rewards, depending on the state

Cons

  • Not available nationwide

  • Low patient satisfaction ratings

Overview

Oscar leads in medical management programs, offering nine plans that help with conditions ranging from asthma to depression to a program that rewards you for every step taken. While many insurers offer such programs, Oscar offers the most and is the only insurer we surveyed that provides a weight-loss program.

Oscar also has the lowest physician copays ($0 in many cases) for bronze and silver plans. With most Oscar plans, you can get $0 virtual primary and urgent care visits. If you hit your annual walking step goals, you’ll also receive $25 to $100 in Amazon gift cards.

Though not all plan types are available everywhere, Oscar offers all metal tiers except platinum—the most expensive tier—with PPOs, HMOs, and EPOs to choose from.

But with limited availability, residents of 32 states are left out of Oscar’s opportunities. Another negative to consider: Oscar's plans received an average NCQA 2.8-star rating, which indicates relatively poor member experiences.

On the plus side: Oscar works with partners to offer supplemental dental, vision, and hearing plans, along with plans to help cover accidents, life insurance, and serious illnesses (cancer, heart disease, and stroke).

Best for Same-Day Care : Aetna CVS Health

The Balance's Rating

3.5

Best Health Insurance Companies of 2024 (4)

  • Availability: 12 states
  • NCQA Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • Additional Features: CVS MinuteClinic access

Why We Chose It

Your Aetna CVS Health card gives you access to MinuteClinic services seven days (and evenings) a week, making it the best health insurance provider for same-day care.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Offers thousands of MinuteClinic retail clinics

  • Tax credits can reduce plan premiums to $0

  • $100 a year to spend on CVS products

Cons

  • Only available for purchase in 12 states

  • No catastrophic plans

Overview

If you need same-day or walk-in access to convenient, no- or low-cost healthcare seven days a week, Aetna’s MinuteClinic may be for you. The clinics are in metro areas in 36 states and Washington, D.C., so the insurance may be a good fit for people who are often on the road for work or pleasure.

These retail clinics allow you to handle routine health needs (such as immunizations) or urgent health issues. If the provider prescribes medication, you can pick up your meds right after your appointment—as the MinuteClinics are housed within retail pharmacies.

If your household qualifies for the premium tax credit, your monthly premium could be reduced to zero. Aetna tries to keep plan-provided benefits close to the minimum essential benefits required by federal law. As a result, the plan’s premium could be fully covered by the tax credit. In addition, Aetna’s expanded bronze pricing was the second-lowest among the insurers we surveyed.

If you’re trying to save money in other ways, Aetna gives enrollees a $25/quarter ($100/year) allowance toward CVS-branded wellness products and discounts on other products year-round.

Aetna offers HMO, PPO, EPO, and HMO-POS plans. However, these plans are only available in limited metal tiers: expanded bronze, silver, and gold. You can’t get platinum or bronze.

Unfortunately, Aetna is also one of the few providers we surveyed without catastrophic plans on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. Catastrophic plans can be a good fit if you prefer to only pay for enough insurance to cover a big emergency—and you qualify for a catastrophic plan.

Also, Aetna’s plans only have an average NCQA rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. That’s slightly below average for the companies we surveyed.

The Bottom Line

When shopping on the Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as the ACA Exchange) for a health insurance plan, you’re likely looking for lower costs, good coverage, and excellent customer service. Blue Cross Blue Shield achieves many of these goals, with good value, strong ratings, and many plans to choose from.

But if you live in a state or region served by Kaiser Permanente, its HMO-centric plans excel in ratings, cost, and an overall track record for customer satisfaction.

Aetna offers excellent value when considering ease of use, particularly in a major urban area, thanks to the insurer’s CVS MinuteClinics. And if you want low copays and numerous health management programs, consider Oscar.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When is open enrollment for health insurance?

    Every year, health insurance open enrollment starts on November 1 and ends on January 15 for the Health Insurance Marketplace, also called the Exchange. If you enroll in a health insurance plan by Dec. 15, 2023, your coverage starts on Jan. 1, 2024. Note that open enrollment for Medicare (October 15 to December 7) differs from open Marketplace enrollment. You can enroll anytime during the year for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), assuming you qualify.

  • How much is health insurance?

    Your health insurance premium—the amount you pay every month—depends on various factors, including your age, location, plan type, dependents, and tobacco use. The lower your deductible, the higher your monthly premium. The provider and the specific plan impact your premium, too.

    If your plan covers more than the 10 essential health benefits (EHBs), it might be more expensive—even if your state requires those benefits. Your insurance premium could drop if you qualify for the advanced premium tax credit or other cost-sharing. To find the cheapest health insurance, it’s important to compare quotes from a few providers.

  • Which is the best health insurance?

    Our review of insurers and plans determined that BCBS provides the best health insurance plans. BCBS stands out for its excellent ratings, low premiums, and wide selection of metal and plan types. However, the best health insurance company for you is the one that meets your unique requirements. Shop around to find a provider offering coverage for the medical services you need and the prescription drugs you take at a price that fits your budget.

  • What is the premium tax credit?

    The premium tax credit (PTC) helps eligible low-income individuals and families lower their health insurance premiums. To get the PTC, you must purchase a Marketplace health insurance plan and have income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level. You can use the credit in advance to lower the cost of your premiums, but if you make more income that year than you thought you would, you’ll have to pay some of the credit back when filing your tax return.

How We Review Health Insurance Companies

To determine the best health insurance companies of 2024, we compared the largest nationwide providers and considered criteria in the following categories. The percentage figures indicate the weight each category got in our scoring.

  • Cost (25%): We compared physician copays, specialist copays, monthly premiums, and deductibles for bronze, silver, gold, and platinum plans for 25-, 35-, 45-, and 60-year-olds across two ZIP codes (33012 and 79936), representing the highest enrollment in ACA plans by state.
  • Plan quality and customer satisfaction (20%): We used NCQA ratings to measure this. The National Committee for Quality Assurance rates healthcare plans for quality and customer satisfaction.
  • Health management programs (20%): Companies got credit for providing programs to help manage asthma, heart disease, depression, diabetes, pain, high cholesterol and blood pressure, pregnancy, low back pain, and weight loss.
  • State availability (15%): This measure indicates how widely available healthcare plans are across the U.S. through the national or state exchanges for Affordable Care Act plans.
  • Dental coverage (10%): Providers that offer coverage for adult dental scored higher than those that don’t.
  • Types of plans (5%): We researched whether each company offered health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, preferred provider organization (PPO) plans, exclusive provider organization (EPO) plans, point-of-service (POS) plans, and other plan types.
  • Metal levels (5%): Bronze, expanded bronze, silver, gold, and platinum plans, as well as catastrophic coverage, were all tallied for this category.

Best Health Insurance Companies of 2024 (5)

I'm an insurance expert with extensive knowledge in health insurance providers and plans. My expertise is grounded in a thorough understanding of the health insurance industry, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), provider networks, plan options, and evaluation criteria.

In the provided article, the author discusses the evaluation of health insurance providers for 2024 and highlights four key companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), Kaiser Permanente, Oscar, and Aetna CVS Health. The evaluation is based on 27 criteria across nine significant health insurance companies, including cost, plan types, customer satisfaction, plan benefits, and state availability.

Here is a breakdown of information related to the concepts used in the article:

  1. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS):

    • Overview: BCBS is chosen as the best overall health insurance provider due to its substantial availability, nationwide network, good-value silver ACA plans, and numerous plan options.
    • Criteria Evaluated: Cost, types of plans available, customer satisfaction, plan benefits, and state availability.
    • National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA): BCBS's plan quality and customer satisfaction are guided by the NCQA annual ratings, where it received an average rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars.
  2. Kaiser Permanente:

    • Overview: Kaiser Permanente is recognized for having the highest quality plans with extraordinary customer satisfaction and quality ratings. It offers well-priced premiums and deductibles.
    • Criteria Evaluated: Customer satisfaction, premium and deductible scores, and availability.
    • NCQA: Kaiser Permanente achieves an average NCQA rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars, with a 5-star rating in the mid-Atlantic region.
  3. Oscar:

    • Overview: Oscar is selected for health management programs, offering a wide variety of programs for different health conditions. It has the lowest physician copays for bronze and silver plans.
    • Criteria Evaluated: Health management programs, physician copays, and availability.
    • NCQA: Oscar's plans received an average NCQA rating of 2.75 out of 5 stars.
  4. Aetna CVS Health:

    • Overview: Aetna CVS Health is highlighted for being the best for same-day care, providing access to MinuteClinic services seven days a week. It offers tax credits and an allowance for CVS products.
    • Criteria Evaluated: Same-day care, tax credits, and additional features.
    • NCQA: Aetna CVS Health has an average NCQA rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.
  5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

    • The article provides information on open enrollment periods, health insurance premiums, the best health insurance company (BCBS), and the premium tax credit.
  6. Methodology for Evaluation:

    • The article explains the methodology used for evaluating health insurance companies, including criteria such as cost, plan quality, health management programs, state availability, dental coverage, types of plans, and metal levels.
  7. Article Sources:

    • The article cites sources such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), HealthCare.gov, J.D. Power, and the Internal Revenue Service.

In summary, the article offers a comprehensive evaluation of health insurance providers, considering various factors to help readers make informed decisions about their health insurance choices in 2024.

Best Health Insurance Companies of 2024 (2024)

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