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Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has established standards for health insurance plans, some health insurance companies are better than others, in terms of both quality and value for the price. To help you narrow down your options, we evaluated costs like premiums and physician copays across companies, and also compared customer satisfaction ratings, financial strength ratings, available plan types, and other health benefits. We identified five insurers that provide the best plans for the 2023 coverage year.
Best Overall : Blue Cross Blue Shield
Relatively high average NCQA rating
A variety of plan types and metal levels
Lowest premium Gold plans
$0 virtual care available 24/7 in some states
High copays in some states
High deductibles on some plans
Blue Cross Blue Shield has an average NCQA rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars, the second highest of the insurers we reviewed. In addition to HMO plans, BCBS offers PPO, EPO, and POS plans, which is great if you don’t want to be restricted to in-network providers. Plans are available nationwide, but vary by region, and Marketplace plans are not available in all areas.
BCBS offers four metal levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum) and catastrophic coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Notably, it offers the best value Gold plans (meaning overall costs, including premiums and deductibles, are relatively low). This makes it a good option for people who prefer robust coverage. Some BCBS companies also offer additional benefits, like $0 virtual care and medical management programs for depression, pain management, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure. However, we found that in some states, physician copays were relatively high.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is also an excellent choice for small business health insurance plans and is our top pick in that category.
Best Value Plans : Oscar
Best value bronze and silver plans
Lowest cost plans across age groups
$0 virtual care with most plans
Convenient mobile app
Up to $75 annually in step rewards
Not available nationwide
Poor member experience ratings
Oscar has the lowest physician copays ($0) and offers the lowest cost plans across age groups (25, 35, 45, and 60 years old). In particular, its bronze and silver plans offer particularly low out-of-pocket costs, making it our top pick for the most affordable health insurance plans of 2023. It also offers a wide range of medical management programs, including ones for asthma, diabetes, depression, pain management, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, low back pain, pregnancy, and weight loss. You can get $0 virtual care with most plans and up to $75 in Amazon gift cards or meeting your annual step goals. Oscar’s convenient mobile app lets you sync your steps or request virtual care.
We also love that Oscar’s plan documents are easy to understand, and the company offers a variety of plan options, including high-deductible and $0 deductible plans to meet different needs. Though not all plan types are available everywhere, Oscar has PPOs, HMOS, and EPOs, and offers four different metal tiers. But Oscar has limited state availability so isn’t an option for everyone.
What’s more, Oscar's plans only received a 2-star rating from Healthcare.gov and an average 2.75 star rating from the NCQA. These ratings indicate relatively poor member experiences compared to other companies.
Highest Quality Plans : Kaiser Permanente
4.3-star average NCQA rating
5-star rating from Healthcare.gov
No-cost 24/7 virtual care available with most plans
Highest customer satisfaction rating
Most plans are HMOs
Kaiser Permanente’s plans have the highest member experience ratings of any of the providers we reviewed. Kaiser’s plans have an average 4.3-star rating from the NCQA and all are rated 5-stars from Healthcare.gov. Plus, the company came in first across multiple regions in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Commercial Health Plan Study. Not surprisingly, Kaiser Permanente received far fewer complaints than expected with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
Most plans include 24/7 virtual care at no cost, but coverage options are limited, as is state availability.
Kaiser Permanente is only available in eight states and the District of Columbia and the insurer generally offers HMO plans, which restrict care to in-network providers. Kaiser Permanente offers four metal levels plus plans with minimum coverage, so people looking for an HMO in one of the states the insurer serves have a good variety of options. The company also offers medical management programs for several conditions, including depression.
Best for MinuteClinic : Aetna CVS Health
Offers MinuteClinic services at no or low cost
Plan premiums can be $0 with tax credits
3.4-star average NCQA rating
Higher than average premiums
Doesn’t offer dental coverage with health insurance plans
With Aetna’s no- or low-cost coverage for MinuteClinic visits, you can access a variety of services with greater convenience and on short notice. You can schedule an appointment online to visit your local MinuteClinic seven days per week. Depending on your health needs, you may be able to get a prescription and pick it up on-site. In some cases, this could be a good alternative to more expensive (and time-consuming) urgent care or emergency room visits.
Aetna’s premiums were higher than average in the ZIP codes we reviewed, but if you qualify for the premium tax credit, you could get that amount reduced to zero. This is not the case with all other companies, even if you qualify for the tax credit, and it’s why Aetna is one of the best health insurance companies for the self-employed.
Aetna offers HMOs, PPOS, EPOs, and HMO-POS plans in Bronze, Silver, and Gold metal tiers. The company also offers plans with medical management programs for a variety of conditions. Aetna’s plans have an average NCQA rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars. The company does not offer dental coverage, however, and ACA plans are not available nationwide.
Best for Medicare Advantage Plans : United Healthcare
Offers child and adult dental
Offers a variety of short-term insurance plans
3.5-star average NCQA rating
Nearly nationwide coverage (depending on plan type)
Highly-ranked Medicare Advantage plans
Few medical management programs
Higher than average premiums for health plans
UnitedHealthcare is the largest health insurance company in the country and has an extensive provider network. The company’s health plans are well-rated for member experience, with an average 3.5 out of 5 star rating from the NCQA. But it stands out for its Medicare Advantage plans, which are ranked even higher by the NCQA (3.9 stars, on average). The CMS gives UHC's Medicare Advantage plans an average 4.2 Medicare star rating, which makes it the second-highest ranked provider of Medicare plans in the country (behind Kaiser Permanente).
UnitedHealthcare has an A+ (Superior) financial strength grade from AM Best, which was the highest of the health insurance providers we reviewed. And the company offers a lot of options for different needs, including child and adult dental coverage, short-term coverage, student coverage, and plans for small businesses.
But there are limits to UnitedHealthcare’s offerings as well. The company doesn’t have any PPO plans for individuals and families, and doesn’t offer extended coverage for various conditions through medical management programs. And premiums are not low, so it may not be the most budget-friendly option (but check your state’s specific plans). You should also check the company’s J.D. Power ranking for your state, since it fares poorly for customer satisfaction in some regions.
Ultimately, your options are limited by the availability of plans in your state and the drugs and services you need covered. But if you’re looking for well-administered plans and a positive member experience, Blue Cross Blue Shield offers a good value alongside strong ratings. If Kaiser Permanente serves your area and you prefer an HMO, you can’t beat its plan ratings or track record for customer satisfaction.
If you need the most affordable plan, Oscar is one company to consider, as is Aetna, especially if you qualify for the advance premium tax credits. Aetna also offers an excellent value if you want the convenience of CVS MinuteClinic services. And UnitedHealthcare is a strong choice, particularly if you’re looking for a Medicare Advantage plan or short-term coverage.
When Is Open Enrollment for Health Insurance?
Open enrollment for 2023 extends from November 1, 2022, to January 15, 2023. You’re eligible to use the marketplace to buy coverage if you are lawfully present in the United States, are not incarcerated, and do not have Medicare coverage. Your coverage starts January 1 as long as you’ve enrolled and paid your first premium.
How Much Is Health Insurance?
Several factors influence your premium, which is how much you pay for health insurance every month. These factors include your age, your location, if you smoke, whether you’re enrolling an individual or family, the metal level you choose, and the specific plan and provider.
- Your age: Older folks may pay up to three times more for coverage than young people.
- Your location: Local restrictions, cost of living differences, and competition within your area all affect your premiums.
- Tobacco use: Insurers can charge more for people who smoke.
- Family or individual enrollment: Plans that include your spouse or dependents will be more expensive than individual plans.
- Metal level: Plans come in four metal levels—Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum—and catastrophic coverage. Bronze plans have lower premiums with higher out-of-pocket costs, while Platinum plans have higher premiums and lower costs when you need care. For example, Bronze plans ranged in price from $237 for a 25-year-old in Florida to $700 for a 60-year-old in Texas. Gold plans, on the other hand, ranged from $326 to $1,244.
- The specific plan and provider: Some providers charge more than others, and within each metal level, pricing may vary depending on how the plan is structured and what kind of coverage is offered.
What Is the Best Health Insurance?
Blue Cross Blue Shield is our top overall pick in our list of the Best Health Insurance Companies of 2022. The insurer has strong third-party ratings, offers low premiums, and provides a variety of coverage options. But the right choice for you will depend on the options in your state, the services and drugs you need covered, and your budget.
What Is the Premium Tax Credit?
The premium tax credit is designed to reduce premiums for people with incomes between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. For 2023, you may qualify even if your income is above that level. Be sure to estimate your income when you are shopping for plans to see if you qualify. Keep in mind that if your income is at or below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level, you may also qualify for your state’s Medicaid program.
To determine the best health insurance companies for 2023 and establish Investopedia star ratings, we considered criteria in the following categories. The percentage next to each category indicates how important that category is to the overall star rating.
- Customer satisfaction (20%): We used NCQA ratings, primarily, and healthcare.gov ratings, secondarily, to measure this criteria.
- State availability (15%): This measure indicates how widely available plans are across the U.S.
- Plan features (40%): For each company, we researched whether it offered the following:
- Types of plans (5%): HMO, PPO, EPO, POS, and other plan types
- Plan benefits (20%): Programs to help manage asthma, heart disease, depression, diabetes, pain, high cholesterol and blood pressure, pregnancy, low back pain, and weight loss
- Dental coverage (10%): Coverage for child dental, adult dental, both, or neither
- Metal levels (5%): Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans, and catastrophic coverage
- Cost to value (25%): We compared physician copays, specialist copays, monthly premiums, and deductibles for bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and catastrophic plans across different age groups across two ZIP codes, representing the highest enrollment in ACA plans by state.