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Texas has the second highest enrollment in Health Insurance Marketplace plans, behind Florida. There was a significant rise in enrollment for 2022 due to increased subsidies, but the state still has the highest uninsured population in the country. Forgoing health insurance in Texas can be devastating in the event of a medical emergency. Luckily, affordable plans are available from reputable providers through the marketplace, and you may be eligible for financial assistance.
To help you narrow down your options, we collected cost data on premiums, coinsurance, and deductibles for Texas plans, evaluated third-party ratings and types of plans offered, and compared other benefits offered by each company. These are the best health insurance companies in Texas for 2023.
Best Overall : Blue Cross Blue Shield
Plans well rated by healthcare.gov
24/7 virtual visits through MDLIVE
Access to the Blue365 discount program
Offers a variety of medical management programs
Wide provider network
Below average J.D. Power ranking
Relatively high premiums for bronze and silver plans
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is the largest health insurance provider in the state by market share, and was our top pick for the best health insurance company overall. BCBS plans have a 3-star Healthcare.gov rating—we didn’t see any other insurance providers in Texas with a higher rating. And the insurer’s gold plans are a particularly good value, with relatively low deductibles and the lowest estimated annual cost, on average, of available plans.
What’s more, there’s a 24/7 nurse line, and you can get virtual care from a doctor 24/7 for more than 80 health conditions, all from your phone. And Blue365 is one of the more extensive discount programs in the industry, offering a variety of discounts on wellness-related products and services. You can even save on gym memberships and weight loss programs.
But Texans looking for a more affordable plan designed for people who need infrequent doctor’s visits may be better served by another company, since BCBS Texas premiums are relatively high for silver and bronze plans. It should also be noted that the company’s customer satisfaction rating was just slightly below average in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Commercial Member Health Insurance Study. BCBS received a score of 732 out of 1,000, when the region average was 737.
Best Value Bronze Plans : Aetna
Cheapest premium bronze plans
$0 virtual care available 24/7
$0 MinuteClinic visits for most services
Highest J.D. Power rating of any exchange provider
Gold plans not as cost-effective for people with high health needs
Aetna provides great value for people who don’t have extensive health needs. The company’s bronze plans offer the cheapest premiums, even compared to other companies’ plans with the same deductible. If you have low health needs, Aetna offers the lowest estimated annual cost plans. What’s more, you’ll get access to free virtual care 24/7 and free walk-in visits at more than 1,100 MinuteClinic locations for things like health screenings and minor injuries. Taking advantage of these perks can save you money on healthcare throughout the year.
Aetna’s plans aren’t yet rated by healthcare.gov or the NCQA. However, Aetna received a customer satisfaction score of 750 out of 1,000 in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Study. No other marketplace provider in Texas received a higher score. And Aetna’s plans are eligible for the maximum premium tax credit, landing the company a spot on our lists of the most affordable health insurance companies and the best health insurance for self-employed people.
The main drawback of choosing Aetna is that the company’s gold plans don’t provide the best value. If you expect frequent visits to the doctor or hospital, your overall annual costs may be higher with Aetna than with Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Best for Dental and Vision : Ambetter
One of few providers to offer exchange plans with dental and vision
Offers EPO plans with no specialist referral required
$0 virtual urgent care
2-star plan rating on Healthcare.gov
Relatively high-cost bronze and silver plans
Ambetter offers plans with adult dental and vision coverage, which is a rarity among marketplace providers. These plans may include an annual children’s eye exam and glasses as well, but not child dental. Ambetter’s health insurance plans with dental and vision benefits are EPOs, which means you don’t need a primary care doctor’s referral to see a specialist. You’ll still be limited to in-network doctors, however. Ambetter also offers 24/7 virtual care along with $0 urgent care, which can save you a lot of cash when compared to an emergency room visit.
But the estimated annual cost of Ambetter’s silver and bronze plans is relatively high for people with low and medium medical needs. Unless it makes sense for you to purchase a gold plan, you may want to opt for one of Aetna’s plans and purchase private dental coverage separately. Ambetter plans have just a 2-star rating on Healthcare.gov, which means you may get better quality with a plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Best for $0 Deductible : UnitedHealthcare
Offers the cheapest $0 deductible plan in some areas
All plans include child dental, and some include adult dental and vision
Many plans include free primary care visits
A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best
Doesn’t offer medical management programs
Poor J.D. Power customer satisfaction ranking
With a $0 deductible health insurance plan, you’ll get coverage right away, without having to pay the full cost of certain services before you meet the deductible. UnitedHealthcare offers one of the lowest premium $0 deductible plans in Texas. It’s a gold plan that has $3 generic drugs, free primary care visits, and includes child dental. UnitedHealthcare is an option for adult dental and vision as well, but Ambetter’s plans are generally less costly. Still, UnitedHealthcare has the highest financial strength grade of any of the companies on this list. An A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best indicates a superior ability to pay claims.
There are a couple of drawbacks to choosing UnitedHealthcare, however. The company doesn’t offer medical management programs like some providers, so you won’t get enhanced coverage for certain conditions, like depression and diabetes. And the company ranked last of Texas health insurance providers reviewed in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Study. UnitedHealthcare’s plans are not yet rated on the exchange.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is our top pick overall, with the highest ratings and the best value gold plans. But if you’re looking for the most affordable plan and you have low health needs, Aetna will likely be a better choice. The company has strong customer satisfaction ratings and $0 walk-in and virtual care visits as well.
Ambetter is a solid choice if you want dental and vision with your health insurance, but be sure to compare separate dental and vision plans as well. And if you want a relatively affordable $0 deductible plan, UnitedHealthcare is one to consider.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Is Health Insurance in Texas?
A variety of factors will influence your health insurance costs in Texas. These include your age, your tobacco use, if you’re enrolling as an individual or family, which metal tier you choose, and whether you qualify for the premium tax credit. For example, older folks can pay up to three times as much for health insurance as younger people, and insurers are allowed to charge smokers up to 50% more for the same plan. Shop around to find the cheapest health insurance for your situation.
How to Get Health Insurance in Texas
You can get health insurance in Texas through your employer, by purchasing an individual or family plan on the healthcare.gov marketplace, or by using the Small Business Health Insurance Options Program if you need small business health insurance. When using healthcare.gov, be sure to enter details about your household and your income to see if you qualify for the premium tax credit.
When Is Open Enrollment for Health Insurance?
Open enrollment for health insurance in Texas begins November 1. To get a health insurance plan starting in January of 2023, you’ll need to enroll by December 15. If you enroll after that, you’ll have until January 15 to get coverage for February. To be eligible to use the marketplace, you’ll just need to live in and be lawfully present in the United States and not incarcerated.
What Is the Premium Tax Credit?
The premium tax credit is designed to reduce monthly health insurance costs for people whose income is between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level. Your expected contribution is based on your income, and your tax credit will equal the difference between a silver plan premium and your expected contribution. You can apply the tax credit to any marketplace health insurance plan that isn’t a catastrophic plan. And you can either use it in advance or claim it at the end of the year.
We compared the estimated annual cost (based on premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance) for households with varying health needs in El Paso County, Texas to find the best value bronze, silver, and gold plans. We also looked at lowest premium as a measure of affordability and considered Healthcare.gov star ratings along with other third-party ratings, such as AM Best and J.D. Power. We then compared the benefits offered by each plan, such as medical management programs, dental and vision, telehealth benefits, and more, to choose the top four companies for Texans looking for an exchange plan.