Best Health Insurance Companies

How to choose the right health insurance for you

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U.S. healthcare spending is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.4% from 2019 to 2028. Having adequate health insurance is essential, but regardless of your situation, finding the best health insurance policy can mean hours of research.

If you aren't one of the 158 million people who have their health insurance met by employer-sponsored benefits, you may find it difficult to know where to start. And even if your employer offers health insurance, you may have multiple options to choose from. How do you know which policy would be best for you and your family?

To help you make a decision about health insurance options, we’ve done some of the groundwork for you. We’ve assessed factors like company reputation, price, coverage, availability, and limitations of some of the best health insurance options before deciding on our top five. Continue reading to find out who the top picks are for health insurance.

Best Health Insurance Companies

Best Overall : United Healthcare


United Healthcare

 United Healthcare

Why We Chose It: United Healthcare is our ultimate choice for health insurance because of the countrywide network, telehealth services, diverse policy types, and a great range of benefits.

What We Like
  • Outstanding reputation

  • Online quotations

  • Extensive provider network

  • Smartphone app

  • Large range of plans

  • Added benefits

  • Customer service available 24/7

  • Available in all states

What We Didn't Like
  • Not available in all locations

  • May be more expensive

United Healthcare boasts an extensive network of more than 1.3 million doctors and 6,500 hospitals in the United States, meaning that most people can benefit from their services. The solid reputation, excellent industry rankings, portfolio of offerings, and attractive benefits make United Healthcare our top overall health insurance choice.

Most people can find a United Healthcare product to suit their health insurance needs. Their portfolio includes individual health insurance, short-term health insurance, dental and vision plans, Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and small business health insurance.

Their TriTerm short-term health insurance is a unique product that provides extended coverage of up to 3 years. Standard short-term insurance typically lasts a maximum of 364 days.

United Healthcare has an A rating for financial stability from AM Best. They also have 4.5 out of a maximum of 5.0 for two of their plans in the National Committee for Quality Assurance ratings.

There are five tiers of coverage for their individual health insurance plans sold through the health insurance Marketplace, from basic to fully comprehensive. Expect discounts if you bundle vision or dental care plans.

The maximum out-of-pocket amount hovers around the $8000 mark. As is common with other marketplace plans, there are no annual limits. 

If you value additional benefits, United Healthcare is unrivaled. You may feel that these justify the slightly higher premium costs when compared to other providers. 

One of their unique benefits is the Sweat Equity physical fitness reimbursement program. Providing you commit to a certain amount of workout sessions, United Healthcare will reward you up to $400 a year. Other benefits include wellness programs, over-the-counter medications, preventative care, and various therapies.

Best For HMOs : Kaiser Permanente


Kaiser Permanente

 Kaiser Permanente

Why We Chose It: We chose Kaiser Permanente as our best for HMOs because they have a history of offering top-rated plans and consistently rank high for customer satisfaction.

What We Like
  • Excellent customer satisfaction

  • Online quotations

  • All-in-one health insurance and health care

  • Mobile app

  • 5 out of 5 rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

  • AM Best rating of A for their financial stability

What We Didn't Like
  • Must use Kaiser facilities

  • Only available in nine states and the District of Columbia

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services consistently award Kaiser Permanente the highest possible rankings for their Medicare policies, they also received 5 out of 5 ratings from the NCQA. Kaiser also shines for customer satisfaction, ranking at the highest level in the J.D. Power and Associates survey. These outstanding ratings made Kaiser an easy choice for our top pick for the HMOs category.

When you enroll in a Kaiser Permanente HMO, you must use one of their 39 Kaiser Foundation Hospitals or 719 medical offices for any healthcare services.  

Kaiser offers Medicare, Medigap, individual, and family plans. However, you must live in one of the following states to purchase a policy: California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. You can buy a policy online through Kaiser or the government Marketplace. 

Kaiser Permanente’s Medicare Advantage HMO plans have different coverage options. Prices and plans vary by state and region. This basic plan for Alameda, California is $24 per month with a $0 deductible and a maximum out-of-pocket of $6,700. If you opt for a standard $84 a month plan, the maximum out-of-pocket is $4,900.

Kaiser prioritizes preventative care and provides tools and programs to help people make informed decisions about their own health. The services include routine exams, cancer screenings, and cholesterol screenings.

Kaiser exclusions include routine vision and foot care, chiropractic care, and any elective procedures.

Best for Budget : Sidecar Health


Sidecar

 Sidecar

Why We Chose It: Although you may not have heard of them, Sidecar Health earns our best for budget-minded consumers because of their flexible, low-cost policies that boast a possible 40% saving compared to traditional health insurance.

What We Like
  • Inexpensive premiums

  • Not restricted to enrollment periods

  • Not restricted by network

  • Mobile app

What We Didn't Like
  • Only available in some states

  • Exclusions for certain medical conditions

Sidecar Health is somewhat of an innovator in the healthcare industry. Launched in 2018, Sidecar Health aims to tackle the barriers to cost-effective and accessible health care. With low monthly premiums and savings of up to 40% on healthcare costs, Sidecar Health is our top budget choice.

You can buy a policy online by first selecting coverage, then adding any options like prescription drugs. Policies quotes are available on the website after entering your location and personal information.

The Sidecar Health online system allows you to shop around for healthcare. You can read user reviews, compare prices, and select the healthcare provider you want to use on the app. You’re not restricted to a network.

When you enroll, you receive a Visa payment card to use. Upon using your Sidecar Health payment card, 20% of the cost of the transaction will be charged to your designated payment method on file. The remaining 80% is advanced by the plan, using the Visa payment card. You may also find additional discounts as you’re making an upfront payment. However, you should also expect to pay anything above the Benefit Amount out of pocket when getting care. 

Sidecar Health could save money for many people, but note that plans don’t qualify for ACA. Plans are underwritten by other insurers that have AM Best ratings of A (Excellent) for financial stability. 

Disadvantages of Sidecar Health include their restriction to 16 states and while they do not have excluded conditions, health conditions will impact premiums.

Best For Families : Oscar


Oscar

 Oscar

Why We Chose It: Oscar took our best for families position because of convenient telehealth, family-focused benefits, and cap on family deductibles.

What We Like
  • Pregnancy and child benefits

  • Telehealth

  • Mobile app

  • Free concierge service

  • Eligible for tax credits

What We Didn't Like
  • No adult dental or vision cover

  • Limited availability

  • No AM Best rating

Financing family health insurance can be challenging, especially if you have a large family. Thankfully, Oscar provides family-friendly options, such as child wellness benefits, capped family deductibles, and convenient access to telehealth, making them our best for families pick. 

With the Oscar app, you can access a care team of guides and nurses who’ll help you find affordable, specialized health care where you live. You’ll also have access to health records and accounts through the app. 

When you have children, it’s not always easy to visit a hospital or clinic. With Oscar, you’ll have access to round-the-clock telehealth. 

Quotes are not easily available on Oscar's website.

Oscar has family benefits, including free well-baby and child exams. There’s also the rather novel daily step benefit. The Oscar app tracks your steps, and you’re paid up to $100 a year for meeting your step goals.

Best Provider Network : Blue Cross Blue Shield Association


Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

 Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

Why We Chose It: With countrywide and international coverage, Blue Cross Blue Shield was an easy pick for our best provider network category.

What We Like
  • Expansive network of hospitals and healthcare providers

  • Available in all 50 states and internationally

  • Range of extra benefits

  • Rewards and incentives system

What We Didn't Like
  • Some plans do not include prescription drug coverage

  • May need to use regional insurance agent

  • Finding information on the many company websites can be difficult

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) provides healthcare coverage for over 107 million people in every state. Across the country, they have contracts with more than 96% of hospitals and 95% of doctors and specialists, making them an obvious choice for our best provider network pick.

The organization comprises 36 independent companies, most with an AM Best financial strength rating of A (Excellent). They offer Medicare Advantage and supplement plans, individual health insurance, high-deductible plans, health savings accounts, dental insurance, small business, and corporate health insurance. 

When you input your zip code to the BCBSA system, it redirects to your local provider. In most places, you can choose from exclusive provider organizations (EPO), preferred provider organizations (PPO), or health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, from basic bronze coverage through to fully comprehensive platinum. 

Quotes and prices are not available on the website.

You need to wait for a specific enrolment period before you can join one of the Marketplace plans. Usually, you can do so online, although, with some smaller BCBSA companies, you may need to speak to an agent. Depending on when in the month you join, you’ll wait between two and six weeks for coverage to begin.

Final Verdict

Choosing the right health insurance can be time-consuming, but it’s essential not to rush and make a decision that's right for your situation and budget. 

Overall, our top pick is United Healthcare for best overall health insurance. They are consistently rated highly in industry rankings, have an outstanding track record of providing excellent health care, and boast an impressive network and range of health insurance policies. 

The ruler of the HMO category, Kaiser Permanente, is an obvious choice for someone looking for a reputable company with a long history of providing top-rated plans.

For those working within a budget constraint, newcomer Sidecar is worth considering and could represent substantial savings with their novel approach.

If provider network is a factor you value, then Blue Cross Blue Shield policies, with countrywide and international facilities, make a sound choice. In contrast, Oscar’s network is far more conservative, but people with families may find it an attractive proposition with their child and family-friendly benefits.

Compare Providers

Insurance provider Why we picked it Monthly premium (average)
United Healthcare Best Overall $500
Kaiser Permanente Best For HMOs $24
Sidecar Best For Budget $200
Blue Cross Blue Shield Best For Provider Network $1,200
Oscar Best For Families $400

FAQs

How Do You Determine the Right Health Insurance for You?

Everyone’s health needs are different, and so what makes a good health insurance choice for one person may not suit someone else. There are many factors to consider including budget, age, policy length, local network, specific coverage for medical conditions, prescription drugs, telehealth availability, customer service, and more.

A good place to start is to use the government marketplace to determine what plans are available in your area. You can then compare the details of the plans within your price range to find one that includes your non-negotiables. 

Pre-existing medical conditions may rule out short-term health insurance, and if you’re under 65, Medicare is likely not an option. 

Negotiating health insurance is no easy task, and making an informed decision is essential.

How Much Does Health Insurance Cost?

Traditional health insurance costs range from basic policies costing around $400 each month to fully comprehensive policies that can cost two or three times this amount. In general, the more economical the monthly premium, the higher the deductible and maximum out-of-pocket. Various factors affect the cost of health insurance, including your age, location, alcohol and tobacco use, and the specific policy. If you have limited finances, you may be able to find low or no-cost health insurance

It’s important to consider your health needs when looking at cost because overall costs may be lower with a higher monthly premium. It’s a balancing act between paying a monthly figure you can afford but minimizing your out-of-pocket expenses if you require healthcare.

What Is Excluded From Coverage?

Companies that sell short-term policies need not conform to ACA rulings and so can exclude pre-existing conditions.

ACA policies from the Health Insurance Marketplace cannot exclude pre-existing conditions.

It’s essential to read all policy documents carefully, but typical exclusions include:

  • Any service not deemed medically necessary
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Extreme sports
  • Illnesses caused by smoking, drinking, or drug abuse
  • Intentional self-harm
  • Pregnancy

Do I Need to Have Health Insurance?

As of January 2019, federal law no longer dictates that health insurance is mandatory. However, even though health insurance premiums are costly, bypassing insurance altogether is extremely risky. 

A medical emergency could financially ruin you. Medical bills cause a disturbing 60% of bankruptcies in the United States. Health insurance provides the peace of mind that you and your family are protected from this risk. 

How We Chose The Best Health Insurance Companies

We identified and appraised 35 top-rated insurance companies offering health insurance before selecting the choices for the top five categories. We examined numerous factors, including premium price, overall price, online availability, ease of obtaining a quote, policy choices, coverage, network, options, and added benefits.

Financial stability and customer satisfaction were also assessed, using data from the National Committee for Quality Assurance, AM Best, and BBB ratings in the decision wherever possible.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  4. NCQA. Private health insurance plan ratings. Updated June 30, 2019.

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  6. J.D. Power. 2020 U.S. commercial member health plan study. Updated May 20, 2020.

  7. AM Best. AM Best affirms credit ratings of Anthem, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Updated December 3, 2020.

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