Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is one of the most recognizable brands of health insurance in the United States. Its operation is an amalgam of some 36 independent companies, and although this can mean variations in service according to a customer’s location, its pricing plans, range of services and selection of discounts that it can offer for related services means that it's our top pick when it comes to choosing one of the best health insurance companies. It tops a list that includes Humana and Cigna.
BCBS now provides health insurance to well over 100 million people across the United States. The Blue Cross company was founded in 1929, while Blue Shield emerged in 1939, the two companies merging in 1982.
Most customers will begin their enquiries at the BCBS website and then as their requirements are analyzed, they will quickly be linked up with their local BCBS partner. The quotation and claims processes are theoretically as straightforward as any healthcare provider, though obviously there are many factors that come into play depending on individual circumstances.
Blue Cross Blue Shield review: How much does it cost?
- Policies quoted were slightly higher than average
- Offered a good side-by-side analysis of the various plans
- Clear what customers could expect for their money
Sample quote for family: A man and a woman aged 35 with two kids aged 3 and 7: $1,240/month
Sample quote for a married couple: Aged 45-50, no pre-existing conditions: $725/month
Sample quote for an individual man or woman: Aged 45-50, no pre-existing conditions: $465/month
Quotes for health insurance policies vary dramatically depending on requirements and geographic locations, but overall, quotes for BCBS were very slightly above average. Blue Cross Blue Shield offered a good side-by-side analysis of the various plans when quotes were being prepared, and it was clear what customers could expect for their money. The website was intuitive and there’s an app which was equally straightforward to use.
Of course, how much your policy costs depends on more factors than our case study. Therefore, we suggest selecting three or more insurance providers and running the quotes yourself. With all of the providers on our list, we were able to secure quotes in a matter of minutes, so the process is not difficult, and it's worth the money it could save you.
Blue Cross Blue Shield review: Products
- Individual health insurance
- High-deductible health insurance
- Health savings accounts
- Dental insurance
- Small business health insurance
- Corporate health insurance
Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are nationwide and widely accepted at hospitals and doctor's offices across the country. Coverage options range from Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) to Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). PPO plans generally offer coverage for out-of-network providers, while HMO plans only offer out-of-network coverage in emergency situations. BCBS also offers Medicare and Medicaid plans.
For dental insurance, the BlueDental plans include access to a network of 140,000 dentists nationwide. Basic plans include preventative care, fillings, crowns, and braces. With vision insurance, the BlueVision plans are accepted at 3,000 locations nationwide.
Other resources available to members include a member portal that allows the 24/7 tracking of prescriptions and a dedicated customer service phone line. Members can download most of the paperwork they might need from the website. The BCBS app has an especially attractive range of features that are not necessarily included on other comparable apps, with options to help customers find a doctor and an all-ranging ‘Ask Blue’ online help feature.
Blue Cross Blue Shield review: Support
- Coverage across all 50 states
- Access to notable discounts across health and wellness-related programs
- Provides coverage for both branded and generic versions of prescription drugs
BCBS and its associated companies provide coverage across all 50 states (and there are temporary policies available to cover travel abroad). Thanks to this reach, customers have access to a relatively wide selection of healthcare providers regardless of their location compared to other insurance companies.
BCBS customers get access to notable discounts across health and wellness-related programs in their region through the Blue365 feature. These vary by location but can include such programs as health clubs, fitness monitors, diets and other health-related products.
BCBS generally provides coverage for both branded and generic versions of prescription drugs. The details of this will vary according to which state the customer lives in, but each state’s approved drug list is available on each local BCBS company’s website (this list is usually referred to as the formulary). Most customers will have the option of reordering medications online or via mail order.
Blue Cross Blue Shield review: Usability and user reviews
- JD Power ranked Blue Cross Blue Shield the leading healthcare provider
- Customers report a good experience using the BCBS website
- The online quotation process is easy to follow
User experiences vary according to local providers within the network, but a 2019 regional study by JD Power ranked Blue Cross Blue Shield the leading healthcare provider based on customer reviews in the following regions: Heartland/Oklahoma, Massachusetts, North East, Pennsylvania, South West and Texas.
In general, customers report a good experience using the Blue Cross Blue Shield website, and customers were able to access the answers to a good number of queries simply by searching the online help sections.
The national website, where customers are most likely to begin the process, has a wealth of information about the various policies available, ways to find a doctor in specific locations, access and details of the Blue365 program and of course many resources to get general information about BCBS and also health issues in general. It’s also from here that customers can find links to the individual company websites (usually by state or region).
The online quotation process is easy to follow, and though it requires the submission of a basic amount of personal information, this is fairly standard for the industry and the comparison of the various plans suggested is easy enough to follow.
In terms of the claims process, Blue Cross Blue Shield certainly provides all the necessary forms (which are downloadable) and information that customers may need. The process itself will vary depending on the individual claim and the location it is being filed in.
Should I choose Blue Cross Blue Shield?
The expansive nature of the BCBS network works both for and against the company. The vast amount of resources available to customers and the accessibility across all 50 states is definitely a huge plus, and the company goes to some lengths to make its customer-facing operations as easy to use as possible. The fact that customers will be serviced by the local healthcare partner does mean that experiences can vary significantly depending on which state they live in. These regional differences are definitely a factor in choosing a health insurance plan, but in general, the fact that BCBS is accepted at such a large number of medical facilities is a winning factor.
You might also want to look at something more specific when it comes to health cover, in which case you'll find our guides to the best dental insurance and best vision insurance useful. Looking further ahead and we rate the best life insurance options and best Medicare Part D plans.