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Health insurance provides policyholders with more access to healthcare and is linked to better health, lower death rates, and improved productivity, according to the American Hospital Association.[1] Health insurance companies have various coverage and plan options, so it’s important to research the best companies before signing up.

The best health insurance companies include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, and more. Here’s what you need to know about what these companies offer and how to make the best health insurance decision for your healthcare needs.

The 6 best health insurance companies

The best health insurance companies offer a large provider network, various plans to choose from (including options on the healthcare marketplace), wellness and discount programs, good customer reviews, and reasonable costs.

If you don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance, you may be able to buy a healthcare plan directly from an insurance company or through the healthcare marketplace. Plans in the marketplace fall into four main categories — bronze, silver, gold, and platinum — based on how you split the costs of your plan with the insurer.

Here are the six best health insurance companies, along with what you need to know about their coverage options.

Kaiser Permanente

Nonprofit healthcare organization Kaiser Permanente offers health insurance plans and operates medical facilities and services. The company’s model of healthcare and coverage encourages expert teams to collaborate across departments and specialties.

You can buy Kaiser’s insurance plans on the health insurance marketplace in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C. Unless you live in D.C., you can also buy a plan directly from the company. Kaiser Permanente customers pay health insurance premiums ranging from $348 to $487 per month, according to Insurify data.

All of Kaiser’s healthcare plans earned a rating of at least 4 out of 5 stars from the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) 2022 Health Plan Ratings report.[2] Kaiser also performs well when it comes to customer service, with a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index score of 0.3. The average national complaint index is 1, so a 0.3 score means Kaiser receives 70% fewer complaints than other health insurance companies of its size.[3] 

Positive customer reviews cite satisfaction with certain healthcare providers, while negative reviews describe frustration with how the company’s customer service handles issues related to scheduling and care.


  • Coordinated care model

  • Highly rated health plans

  • Strong customer service


  • Only available in eight states and Washington, D.C.

  • Most plans are HMOs

  • Limited provider network

Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is an association of 34 independent and locally operated health insurance companies throughout the country. More than 1.7 million doctors and hospitals partner with BCBS, making it the largest provider network in the country. Individual healthcare plans are available in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. The company offers plans on the health insurance marketplace in all but three states: Mississippi, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Across the 66 plans that received a star rating in the NCQA’s 2022 review, 61% of them received 3.5 stars or better.[4] Nine BCBS companies with available NAIC complaint index scores have an average complaint index of 0.56, receiving 44% fewer complaints than other health insurance companies of their size. That said, some negative online reviews from customers cite dissatisfaction with the claims process and accessing prescription coverage.

Premiums range from $394 to $795 per month, with the average customer paying $573, according to Insurify data.


  • Available nationwide

  • $0 virtual care in some states

  • Some plans include Blue365, a health and wellness discount program


  • Higher premiums than others on this list

  • Potential for higher out-of-pocket deductible costs

  • ACA plans not available in Mississippi, Nebraska, and South Dakota


UnitedHealthcare (UHC) is the nation’s largest health insurance company and offers coverage in all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Plans through the health insurance marketplace are available in 22 states. UnitedHealthcare’s provider network includes 1.3 million physicians and 6,500 hospitals and pharmacies.

Some UnitedHealthcare plans include $0 primary care visits, low-cost prescription drugs, free unlimited virtual visits, vision and dental coverage, complimentary access to fitness classes, and primary and specialty care in English and Spanish. Insurify data indicates that monthly premiums range from $377 to $681, with the average policyholder paying $533.

Across the 199 UHC plans that received a star rating in the NCQA’s 2022 review, 68% of them received 3.5 stars or better.[5] The company earned an NAIC complaint index of 0.68.[6] Some online customer reviews complain of unreliable customer service, while others express appreciation for the care the insurer provides.


  • Available nationwide

  • Large provider network

  • Some plans include add-on benefits


  • Higher premiums than competitors

  • Plan availability limited by state

  • Slightly below-average customer satisfaction ranking in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Medicare Advantage Study[7]

Learn More: The 10 Best & Worst Medicare Advantage Plans


Aetna offers plans in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., with health plans available through the ACA marketplace in 12 states. Of the 52 plans with a star rating from the NCQA, 42% of them received 3.5 stars or better.

Some of Aetna’s healthcare plans include $0 preventive care, access to CVS Minute Clinics, 24/7 virtual care, and opportunities to earn rewards for completing certain healthy activities.

The cost of monthly premiums ranges from $415 to $555, with the average policyholder paying $477, according to Insurify data. Across the 118 plans that received a star rating in the NCQA’s 2022 review, 64% of them received 3.5 stars or better.[8] Aetna has an NAIC complaint index of 1.6, meaning it has 60% more complaints than other health insurance companies of its size.[9] Negative online reviews describe confusion around coverage and dissatisfaction with customer service.


  • Relatively low premiums

  • Free or low-cost access to CVS Minute Clinics

  • A- (excellent) financial strength rating from A.M. Best


  • More customer complaints than others on this list

  • ACA plans only offered in 12 states

  • Below-average customer satisfaction ranking in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Medicare Advantage Study


With individual health plans available in 13 states on the ACA marketplace, Cigna offers health, supplemental, and dental insurance. The company also provides Medicare Advantage plans in 16 states and Washington, D.C. Cigna’s provider network includes connections to 1.5 million healthcare providers, facilities, and clinics.

On average, Cigna policyholders pay between $346 and $651 per month, based on Insurify data. The company has an NAIC complaint index of 0.8, meaning it has 20% fewer complaints than comparable health insurers.[10] Across the 52 plans with an NCQA star rating, only 42% of them received 3.5 stars or more.[11] Online reviews for Cigna mention frustration with claims handling and overall customer service, but satisfaction with affordable costs.


  • Customers can purchase supplemental plans whenever

  • $0 virtual and preventative care

  • Financial assistance available for those who qualify


  • Negative online reviews regarding claims handling

  • Below-average customer satisfaction ranking in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Medicare Advantage Study

  • ACA and Medicare coverage not available in all states

See Also: How to Compare Medicare Advantage & Get the Best Plan


This nonprofit health insurer primarily provides coverage to people in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Medica offers a variety of coverage plans, including individual and family, Medicare, and Medicaid. Dental plans are available through a partnership with Delta Dental.

People with Medica health insurance pay average rates between $471 and $752 per month, according to Insurify data. With an NAIC complaint index of 0.23, the company has 77% fewer complaints than comparable health insurers.[12] The NCQA only rated four Medica plans, but all of them scored 3.5 or higher.[13] Online reviews cite long waits for assistance from customer service representatives.


  • Financial assistance available for those who qualify

  • Covered insulin is only $25 per month

  • Community-focused


  • Not available in most states

  • Medicaid plans from Medica are unavailable outside of Minnesota

  • Smaller provider network than others on the list


The list of best health insurance was compiled following thorough research of numerous health insurers in the United States. Special attention was paid to average costs of premiums and deductibles, coverage offerings and options, ACA marketplace eligibility, customer service, customer satisfaction, industry rankings, financial strength, locations, and more.

What is health insurance and how does it work?

Health insurance is an agreement where a health insurance company pays for some or all of your healthcare costs in exchange for a monthly premium. Depending on the plan and what it covers, you may also be responsible for an annual deductible and co-insurance, which is a percentage of what your claim costs the insurance company.

A good health insurance plan not only covers your preventive care but also “protects you from financial ruin in case of an accident or serious illness,” says Dr. Virgie Bright Ellington, an internal medicine physician, former insurance executive, and medical billing expert.

Qualified health plans meet certain requirements under the Affordable Care Act, while nonqualified health plans don’t meet ACA requirements. Nonqualified plans typically cost less.

See Also: What Is a Health Insurance Deductible?

What does health insurance cover?

Health insurance plans differ, but all qualified health insurance plans must cover a set of 10 categories of services known as essential benefits.[14] These include:

  • Outpatient care

  • Emergency services

  • Hospitalization

  • Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care (including birth control and breastfeeding coverage)

  • Mental health and substance use disorder services

  • Prescription drugs

  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices

  • Laboratory services

  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management

  • Pediatric services

Keep in Mind

State laws may affect what your healthcare plan offers, and insurance companies may choose to include more benefits than required or offer nonqualified plans that offer fewer services.

When comparing healthcare plans, you may notice they’re categorized into levels of managed care. Each type of managed care plan — POS, HMO, EPO, and PPO — has a different way of limiting the network of providers you can choose from, requirements surrounding primary care physicians, and coverage at out-of-network facilities. Here’s what you need to know about each type of managed care plan:

  • Point-of-service (POS): These plans charge less if you use in-network providers and facilities. You’ll need a primary care physician’s referral in order to see a specialist.

  • Health maintenance organization (HMO): Limits coverage to certain in-network doctors and facilities. The plan won’t cover out-of-network care, except in an emergency.

  • Exclusive provider organization (EPO): Only covers care from in-network doctors, specialists, or hospitals — with the exception of emergencies. “One of the benefits of HMOs and EPOs is lower premiums and deductibles and little or no copays,” Dr. Ellington says.

  • Preferred provider organization (PPO): Allows you to receive coverage in and out of the network without a referral, but you’ll pay less if you use providers in the plan’s network.

Check Out: Do I Need Health Insurance Coverage?

What does health insurance not cover?

Health insurance plans typically exclude services that are experimental, not medically necessary, cosmetic procedures, off-label prescriptions, fertility treatments, some preventative care, and more.

“However, you can pay for these services out of pocket and from health savings accounts (HSAs) or flexible savings accounts (FSAs),” says Dr. Ellington.

How much does health insurance cost?

Health insurance premiums depend on your insurance company, tier, specific plan, policyholder, and other factors. But it helps to understand what you may pay. Here are the average monthly costs of health insurance for catastrophic, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum plans.

Metal LevelAverage Monthly Quote

How are health insurance costs set?

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies can’t base your premiums on your health, medical history, or gender. Companies can take the following factors into account:[15]

  • Age: Costs generally increase as you age because you’re more likely to need medical care. Premiums may cost up to three times more for an older policyholder than for a younger person.

  • Location: The cost of living in your area, laws in your state, and competition among local health insurance companies can all influence your premiums.

  • Tobacco use: Insurance companies can charge policyholders up to 50% more for using tobacco.

  • Individual versus family enrollment: Plans for individuals are generally less expensive than plans that include a spouse and dependents.

  • Plan category: Premiums vary by metal level. For example, bronze plans have lower monthly premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs, while platinum plans have the highest premiums and lowest out-of-pocket costs.

Read More: How Are Health Insurance Premiums Calculated?

How to choose the right health insurance plan

Consider these key factors when choosing a health insurance plan:

Provider networks

A provider network is a list of approved doctors, hospitals, and other providers your health insurance plan covers. You can use these providers when you need care. Choosing a policy with a large provider network means more doctors and medical facilities may accept your insurance, but it can be more expensive. HMO and EPO plans generally have more coverage restrictions, while a PPO gives you the freedom to receive out-of-network care.


A health insurance plan comes with several costs. You’ll pay a monthly premium to keep your plan active, regardless of the services you receive. The deductible is an amount you’re responsible for paying before your insurance kicks in. Some healthcare plans also come with co-insurance, which requires you to pay a percentage of the costs associated with a healthcare claim. Weigh these costs against the care you expect to need. If you need high-cost prescriptions or ongoing medical care, for instance, you may prefer a plan with higher premiums and lower deductibles and co-insurance.

Learn More: Health Insurance Knowledge

Extra benefits

Check whether the health insurance plan comes with extra services like dental coverage and vision care. Some plans also include programs for specific needs, such as weight loss, smoking cessation, and diabetes management. These wellness programs may provide discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships, and other incentives to participate.

Health insurance FAQs

Here are the answers to common questions about health insurance and the healthcare marketplace.

  • The health insurance marketplace’s open enrollment is Nov. 1 through Jan. 15 every year. You may also apply for health insurance during special enrollment periods. If you lose health coverage, get married, have a baby, or earn less than a certain income, you may qualify to enroll outside of open enrollment.

  • Health insurance is no longer mandatory at the federal level, but some states may require you to have coverage. Though it’s not required in all states, you should consider purchasing health insurance to help cover the costs of any necessary medical care.

  • The best health insurance company ultimately depends on your health insurance needs and budget. Some of the best health insurance companies include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Kaiser Permanente, Medica, and UnitedHealthcare. Kaiser Permanente offers a unique “coordinated coverage” approach that attempts to improve health outcomes. Its plans are also the most affordable and highly rated among others on this list, and it receives fewer complaints than other companies of its size.

  • Among the four main health plan categories — bronze, silver, gold, and platinum — the platinum plans have the highest monthly premiums. But platinum policyholders tend to pay lower deductibles when getting care.

  • Some health insurance plans within the ACA marketplace include dental coverage, and you’ll be able to see which plans include this benefit when you compare them.


  1. American Hospital Association. "Report: The Importance of Health Coverage." Accessed March 1, 2023
  2. National Committee for Quality Assurance. "Report Cards: Kaiser Permanente Health Plans." Accessed March 1, 2023
  3. NAIC. "Kaiser Permanente Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed March 1, 2023
  4. National Committee for Quality Assurance. "Report Cards: Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Plans." Accessed March 1, 2023
  5. National Committee for Quality Assurance. "Report Cards: UnitedHealthcare Health Plans." Accessed March 1, 2023
  6. NAIC. "UnitedHealthcare Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed March 1, 2023
  7. J.D. Power. "Customers Perceive Shortfall in Medicare Advantage Plan Coverage of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed March 1, 2023
  8. National Committee for Quality Assurance. "Report Cards: Aetna Health Plans." Accessed March 1, 2023
  9. NAIC. "Aetna Hlth Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed March 1, 2023
  10. NAIC. "Cigna Hlth & Life Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed March 2, 2023
  11. National Committee for Quality Assurance. "Report Cards: Cigna Health Plans." Accessed March 2, 2023
  12. NAIC. "Medica Hlth Plans National Complaint Index Report." Accessed March 2, 2023
  13. National Committee for Quality Assurance. "Report Cards: Medica Health Plans." Accessed March 2, 2023
  14. "What Marketplace health insurance plans cover." Accessed March 1, 2023
  15. HealthCare/gov. "How insurance companies set health premiums." Accessed March 1, 2023
Kim Porter
Kim Porter

Kim Porter is a writer and editor who's been creating personal finance content since 2010. Before transitioning to full-time freelance writing in 2018, Kim was the chief copy editor at Bankrate, a managing editor at Macmillan, and co-author of the personal finance book "Future Millionaires' Guidebook." Her work has appeared in AARP's print magazine and on sites such as U.S. News & World Report, Fortune, NextAdvisor, Credit Karma, and more. Kim loves to bake and exercise in her free time, and she plans to run a half marathon on each continent.