Pros / With 37 companies across the United States, Blue Cross Blue Shield has the greatest variety of plans available on average.
Cons / Blue Cross Blue Shield is a group of multiple independent agencies, so the specifics of your care depend on the company servicing your area.
Verdict / Blue Cross Blue Shield provides a wide variety of healthcare plans at prices that fall within the average range of other insurance providers. However, quality may vary by local company.
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is a nationwide provider of health insurance. It's made up of 37 local and independently operated companies, which can have the advantage of more individualized attention, but it also means the quality of service depends on the location. Nonetheless, its good prices, wide range of options and discount programs on other health and wellness products and services make it the best health insurance service overall.
Selection of Plans
The BCBS network is expansive, and as a result, it offered a greater variety of plans compared to the other insurance providers we reviewed. In some cases, we were given a choice of nearly 20 different plans. It provides both subsidy-eligible plans and standard ones. You can sort through plans by several factors and select up to three at a time to compare side by side. The quote generator also provides sliding scales so you can pick a price range, deductible range, coinsurance options and other factors to narrow your search.
The side-by-side comparison is similar to features found on other health insurance sites. It shows the specifics of each plan and the costs or benefits involved. The benefits are clearly listed, and there are pop-ups and links for more information if you aren't sure about a specific benefit. A link lets you check whether your doctor is included in the plan.
This service also has international coverage in case you are traveling abroad. In addition, it has specific policies for business travelers or people planning to spend up to 180 days abroad. The international insurance plans cover evacuation in case you need to be brought to the U.S. for specialized care.
Sample Premium Rates
We found the premiums to be within the average price range for the providers we evaluated. For our tests, we looked at a policy for a single non-smoker of ages 35, 45 and 55. We priced plans for each of these cases across five zip codes, and then averaged highest- and lowest-priced plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield's policies were slightly above average for the 45- and 55-year-old, but not significantly so.
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.
This insurance agency offers its members discounts in health and wellness programs through Blue365. This includes discounted enrollments in health clubs, fitness monitors, diet programs and other products and services. Over 20 of the BCBS companies offer this member benefit.
On the national website, you can get information about policies, find a doctor, access the Blue365 program and peruse the blog and media resources to get general information about BCBS and health issues. You can also find links to the individual company websites on the national BCBS page.
As with the health insurance companies we reviewed, you have access to a prescription manager and can reorder medications online or via mail order. You can contact nurses for medical advice that may not require a trip to the doctor. Accessing some of these services may depend on the individual Blue Cross Blue Shield company in your local area. The exact features offered may vary by individual company as well.
BCBS is an association of local companies. Thus, the way you contact them varies by location, but in general, you can find phone or online support across the board. You can speak to a BCBS representative in several languages, and there are accessibility features for the hearing impaired.
You can find in-network doctors across the globe online or using the mobile app. The mobile app gives you access to your account and medical information. The latter is very useful when traveling. Some BCBS companies offer other apps dedicated to health and wellness.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the largest health insurance providers in the nation. An association of independent companies, it can offer a larger variety of plans and benefits than many of the providers we reviewed. While the exact details and service vary by specific location, it's still the best health insurance company and worth including on your list as you price out plans.