Aetna vs. Cigna vs. Kaiser Permanente 2020 Review

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Written by: Alice Stevens | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: May 12th, 2020

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Updated January 2020.

Shopping for health insurance can be quite the endeavor:

  • Terms are confusing.
  • Plans can be tricky to figure out.
  • And, health is sometimes unpredictable.

When it comes to the bottom line, you're trying to find:

  • The most cost-effective plan,
  • That also has great coverage,
  • And comes from a trustworthy company.

Most of the advice published about health insurance focuses on how to choose the plan that meets your needs. This article focuses on choosing a health insurance company.

Granted, health insurance is regional and not all companies offer plans in the same states, so your choice of insurers may be limited.

What you’ll find here is an overview of three major health insurance companies: Aetna, Cigna, and Kaiser Permanente with as many details as we could find. 

We'll cover:

If you’re considering plans from any of these three companies, this article will help you better understand what each company offers and which company may be best for you.

You can view customer reviews for each of the companies by following these links:

Specific plans and costs discussed in this article may vary depending on your location, age, and other demographic information.

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Best Company user ratings and reviews

Reviews published on Best Company are an important resource because of our verification and publication practices. You can trust the reviews on our site.

Customer reviews give you information on the customer experience offered by an insurer. This information is valuable because it gives you access to information you may not otherwise have.

As you consider customer reviews, you need to know how trustworthy they are. Unfortunately, fake reviews exist. Review sites have control over how reviews are published, so they can fail to publish bad reviews or they can choose to highlight positive reviews unfairly.

Best Company verifies that each review published comes from a real person, not a company representative or someone incentivized by the company. All reviews that pass our verification process are published — good and bad.

Aetna, Cigna, and Kaiser Permanente health insurance ratings at a glance

Aetna

Overall Score: 5.7/10

User Star Rating: 3.2/5

Percentage of 1-star reviews: 31%

Percentage of 4- and 5-star reviews: 55%

Cigna

Overall Score: 7.3/10

User Star Rating: 2.6/5

Percentage of 1-star reviews: 45%

Percentage of 4- and 5-star reviews: 39%

Kaiser Permanente

Overall Score: 7.2/10

User Star Rating: 2.9/5 

Percentage of 1-star reviews: 40% 

Percentage of 4- and 5-star reviews: 44% 

(Ratings as of April 28, 2020)

It’s common for health insurance companies to have a high number of negative reviews. As you consider good and bad reviews about health insurance companies, keep in mind that insurers offer a wide variety of plans. Plans have different network structures, cost-sharing rules, and coverage restrictions. Plan offerings can also vary by location, so consider where the reviewer is from as you read reviews.

Everyone’s medical needs are also different, which can affect how plan members experience the company. If reviewers share details on why they had difficulty, that can help you know what questions to ask and decide whether or not to buy from an insurance company.

Complaints about Aetna, Cigna, and Kaiser Permanente have similar themes. Reviews mention issues with claims, coverage denial, and difficulty resolving problems. These similarities show that the difficulties are common across these insurers. Choosing one over the other doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll avoid these problems.

Aetna ratings and reviews

As of April 28, 2020, Aetna had a 5.7/10 overall score and a 3.2 star rating based on 143 user reviews.

31 percent of Aetna reviews had a 1-star rating. Complaints include:

  • Poor experiences with customer service
  • Costs
  • Claims denial
  • Issues with filling prescriptions and the delivery process
  • Pre-authorization delays
  • Difficulty with the website
  • Concerns with the network of providers
  • Difficulty getting forms to fill-out

55 percent of Aetna reviews had a 4- or 5-star rating. Praise includes:

  • Good communication around claims
  • Satisfaction with customer service
  • Satisfaction with coverage
  • Quick claims process
  • Satisfaction with the cost and value of plan
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Customer Review: Natalia Correa MDTribe from Miami, Florida

"I had this insurance previously with one of my employments. I had a copay but I was able to go to the ER and outpatient. After my $40 copay, it covered everything else such as immunizations and routine lab work."

Cigna ratings and reviews

As of April 28, 2020, Cigna had an overall score of 7.3/10 and a 2.6/5 average star rating based on 161 user reviews.

45 percent of Cigna reviews had a 1-star rating. Complaints include:

  • Cost
  • Coverage denial for treatment, tests, or prescriptions
  • Customer service
  • Approval process for pre-authorization
  • Coverage restrictions
  • Incorrect billing
  • Poor organization
  • Poor ability to resolve client issues
  • Claims denial

39 percent of Cigna reviews had a 4- or 5-star rating. Praise includes:

  • Good experiences with coverage and claims processing
  • Satisfaction with provider networks
  • Easy to use mobile app and website
  • Satisfaction with customer service
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Customer Review: Melinda Olson from Goodyear, Arizona

"Cigna has provided us with great insurance and to see the doctors we like. Customer service helped us figure out issues we had."

Kaiser Permanente ratings and reviews

As of April 28, 2020, Kaiser Permanente has an overall score of 7.2/10 and a 2.9 average star rating based on 124 user reviews.

40 percent of Kaiser Permanente reviews had a 1-star rating. Complaints include:

  • Poor customer service
  • Difficulty resolving issues
  • Dissatisfaction with Kaiser Permanente care providers and care facilities
  • Coverage restrictions and denials
  • Claims denials
  • Scheduling difficulties
  • Issues with prior authorization
  • Cost

44 percent of Kaiser Permanente reviews had a 4- or 5-star rating. Praise includes:

  • Convenience of all care providers in one facility
  • Caring doctors and providers
  • Network satisfaction
  • Online portals
  • Coordination between care providers
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Customer Review: Fay Falatea from Kaneohe, Hawaii

"Me and my family have been insured by Kaiser Permanente for 13 years. The Drs I had were great and customer service from the receptionist was always pleasing. Was sad when I had to change to another insurance."

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Individual and family plans

While some people receive health insurance through their employer, others purchase their own directly from health insurance companies. Aside from premiums, deductibles, and cost-sharing, the biggest difference between plans is the networks that plan members have access to. 

There are several kinds of health insurance plans: 

  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) plans provide coverage for in-network care. A Primary Care Physician (PCP) oversees all medical care received.
  • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) plans provide both in- and out-of-network coverage and allow members to see specialists without a referral. Coverage is higher for in-network care providers.
  • Point of Sale (POS) plans provide discounted health care services with limited cost-sharing. These plans are more common for dental insurance, but there are some available in the health insurance industry.
  • Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plans offer coverage for in-network medical services and generally don’t require a referral.
  • Short Term health insurance plans offer health insurance coverage for less than one-year. These plans can be useful if you know you’ll be without health insurance for a certain period of time or are between health insurance plans. 
  • Catastrophic health insurance plans have low premiums and high deductibles. These plans only provide health insurance coverage for serious injury or illness. These plans can be a good deal for people with good and stable health.

Some health insurance plans feature different kinds of savings accounts for medical expenses:

  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) contain tax-free funds that must be used throughout the calendar year for medical expenses.
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) build tax-free funds for health expenses. These accounts don’t have an expiration date like FSAs, so plans that are HSA-compatible are popular among people in good health.

When purchasing health insurance independently, individuals can purchase any plan offered by a health insurance company or choose a Marketplace (Obamacare) plan.

Marketplace plans can be found, compared, and enrolled in through HealthCare.gov, unless your state has its own website. 

Marketplace plans share the same labels that other health insurance plans do. They are also categorized into bronze, silver, gold, and platinum based on the level of cost-sharing the plan offers. Bronze plans have lower premiums and the lowest level of cost-sharing. Platinum plans have the highest premiums and the highest level of cost-sharing.

Aetna individual and family plans

Aetna offers three kinds of health insurance plans:

  • Network Only plans
  • Network Option plans
  • Traditional Choice ® Indemnity plans

The Network Only plans include HMO, Aetna Select (SM), Open Access Aetna Select, and Health Network Only. 

Aetna also offers its Elect Choice ® in California and Washington and Aetna Open Access ® Elect Choice in California, New York, Texas, and Washington.

Some of Aetna’s Network Only plans allow patients to see specialists without PCP referrals. Others require referrals.

Aetna’s Network Option plans include the following:

QPOS ® (Quality Point-of-Service ® ), Aetna Choice ® POS II, Managed Choice ®, Aetna Open Access ® Managed Choice, Open Choice ® PPO, and Health Network Option.

Some of these plans require referrals to see specialists. Members of these plans have a PCP who manages care. They can go to providers in or out of network. These plans are a little more flexible and can be customized. 

Aetna’s Network Option plans can be connected with an HSA or health fund in most states. The plans also include gym membership, eyewear, and other health and wellness product offerings.

Aetna’s Traditional Choice ® Indemnity Plans are self-funded and do not have network limitations. These plans also do not require PCPs or referrals. People with these plans are responsible for their deductible and coinsurance.

Discounts for gym membership, eyewear, and other health and wellness products are also included with the indemnit plans.

International Health Insurance

Aetna also offers international health insurance to independent buyers all over the globe. 

U.S. citizen plans

Its Mobile Healthcare Plans provide health insurance to U.S. citizens. 

The MHP Classic Plan covers emergency assistance, maternity care, accidental damage to teeth, and preventive care.

The MHP Exclusive Plan provides the same coverage with the following additional features:

  • Additional pregnancy and childbirth coverage
  • Routine and restorative dental care
  • Additional preventive coverage

These plans have a $4 million annual maximum, a range of deductibles, and provide full coverage once the $1,000 coinsurance is met. These plans also provide two years of free health coverage if the primary individual insured dies.

Plans for everyone else

For others, Aetna offers five different plans:

  • Aetna Pioneer (SM) 1750
  • Aetna Pioneer (SM) 2500
  • Aetna Pioneer (SM) 4000
  • Aetna Pioneer (SM) 5000
  • Aetna Pioneer (SM) 5000+

Each plan has an increasing annual maximum starting at $1,750,000 (Aetna Pioneer (SM) 1750) and ending with $5,000,000 (Aetna Pioneer (SM) 5000 and Aetna Pioneer (SM) 5000+) These plans cover the following:

  • Inpatient and daycare treatment
  • Parent hospital accommodation
  • Emergency inpatient treatment out of coverage area
  • Outpatient post-hospitalization treatment
  • Outpatient surgery
  • Outpatient dental treatment for accidental damage following hospitalization
  • Local ambulance
  • Cancer care
  • Organ transplants
  • Mortal remains
  • Rehabilitation (30-120 days)
  • Emergency assistance services
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Hospital cash
  • Further benefits (unspecified)

Non-emergency medical evacuation coverage can be added to these plans. Routine dental care can be added to Aetna Pioneer (SM) 1750 and 2500 plans.

The Aetna Pioneer (SM) 1750, 2500, 4000, and 5000 plans also include inpatient treatment for acute conditions for newborns. The Aetna Pioneer (SM) 5000+ plans provide coverage for newborn congenital abnormalities.

The Aetna Pioneer (SM) 2500, 4000, and 5000 plans provide additional coverage for outpatient complementary medicine like podiatry, osteopathic, and chiropractic treatment with referrals.

The Aetna Pioneer (SM) 2500, 4000, 5000, and 5000+ plans provide additional coverage for the following:

  • Inpatient psychiatric treatment
  • Outpatient consultations, treatment and tests (MRI)
  • Outpatient physiotherapy
  • Outpatient traditional Chinese medicine
  • Outpatient psychiatric treatment
  • Emergency outpatient treatment outside of coverage area
  • Terminal care
  • Chronic condition and disease management
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • HIV or AIDS

The Aetna Pioneer (SM) 4000, 5000, and 5000+ plans include coverage for compassionate emergency visits and routine health checks.

The Aetna Pioneer (SM) 5000 and 5000+ plans include coverage for sight and hearing examinations.

Keep in mind that these benefits are subject to the annual benefit maximum. Some of the benefits have lifetime limits.

Cigna individual and family plans

Cigna’s plans are available in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, Utah, and Tennessee. 

Cigna’s Marketplace plans and other individual and family plan options are easy to view on its website state by state. Each plan listing includes detailed coverage information regarding deductibles, out-of-pocket limits, and cost-sharing. 

Plan offerings vary depending on location, however, consumers can expect to see several different HMO plans.

Most of Cigna’s plans include access to telehealth providers so members can quickly get medical advice or be seen by a doctor remotely in non-emergency situations. Many plans include this as a complimentary service, though some do not. Plan members also can use Cigna’s Health Information LineSM to talk to a nurse 24/7. These features allow patients to easily get non-emergency medical help.

Cigna’s plans also include Healthy Rewards®. This program provides discounts for certain nutrition programs, fitness clubs, eyewear, alternative medicine, yoga, and vitamins. The availability of these discounts and their amounts vary by state.

Supplemental insurance

Cigna also offers supplemental health insurance:

  • Lump Sum Heart Attack and Stroke Insurance
  • Lump Sum Cancer Insurance
  • Cancer Treatment Insurance
  • Whole Life Insurance

These additional offerings allow consumers to purchase additional coverage for certain kinds of medical care.

International health insurance

Consumers living or traveling abroad can also purchase a customizable international insurance plan. These plans provide coverage for mental health, essential hospital stays, cancer treatment, and more. 

Additional coverage can be added for the following:

  • Outpatient care
  • Medical evacuation
  • Health and wellness (health screenings)
  • Vision
  • Dental

Cigna’s international health care plans have deductible and cost sharing options. The plans come in three tiers: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Each plan has a different annual benefit limit. Take these limits into account as you determine what kind of plan you'll need.

Kaiser Permanente Individual and Family Plans

Kaiser Permanente offers marketplace and other individual and family health insurance plans. Specific plans available depend on your zip code and can be easily viewed from Kaiser Permanente’s website.

Speaking in general terms, Kaiser Permanente offers Affordable Care Act-tiered HSA-compatible plans, catastrophic plans, copayment plans, and deductible plans.

Copayment plans have an out-of-pocket limit but do not have a deductible. However, the plans have specific copayments or coinsurance for each kind of doctor visit or medical treatment.

Deductible plans have set copayments and coinsurance that contribute to the deductible total. Once the deductible is met, then the insurance kicks in at a higher level. These plans also have out-of-pocket limits that are higher than the deductible.

Charitable health insurance

Kaiser Permanente also provides charitable health coverage for low-income individuals who don’t qualify for public health insurance or have access to private health insurance. 

Kaiser Permanente provides subsidies on premiums for these plans and additional financial assistance for out-of-pocket costs when care is received at Kaiser Permanente facilities for covered services.

These plans are available in California, Colorado, Georgia, the Mid-Atlantic (Maryland and Virginia), and Oregon. The name of the Kaiser Permanente’s charitable health coverage is different in each region:

  • Northern California: Community Health Care Program
  • Southern California: Child Health Program
  • Colorado: Colorado Bridge Program
  • Georgia: Bridge Program
  • Maryland and Virginia: Community Health Access Program
  • Oregon: Community Health Coverage Program

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Government plans

The U.S. government offers health care plans to people who meet the qualifications. The most common of these plans are as follows:

  • Medicaid
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Medicare
  • Medigap (Medicare supplement insurance)

Medicaid and CHIP

Eligibility requirements for Medicaid are determined by each state independently. In general, Medicaid provides coverage for low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Medicaid benefits are also determined by state governments. However, under the Affordable Care Act, essential medical services like preventive care are covered. 

More information on Medicaid eligibility and benefits can be found on Medicaid.gov.

CHIP provides health insurance to children whose families do not qualify for Medicaid and who also can’t afford to buy their own health insurance health care coverage. Specifics of eligibility also vary by state.

Aetna Medicaid and CHIP

Aetna offers Medicaid in the following states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

In most of these states, Aetna offers one plan options for Medicaid. Aetna also offers CHIP. More specific details can be found by reaching out to Aetna directly.

Kaiser Permanente Medicaid and CHIP

Kaiser Permanente offers Medicaid in the following states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.

Medicare and Medigap

Medicare is for people who are age 65 and older. It’s best to enroll in Medicare Part B as soon as you are eligible. There are four main parts: Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D. Each part can be purchased separately and provides a different kind of coverage.

Part A covers hospital expenses and stays. Part B covers doctor visits and check-ups. 

Part C is more commonly referred to as Medicare Advantage plans. These plans combine Part A and Part B coverage.

Part D is for prescription medications.

Medigap is Medicare supplemental insurance that provides additional coverage for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicaid. There are several different kinds of Medigap insurance that are referred to as Parts A-N. Some of these include health care coverage abroad.

Aetna Medicare

Aetna carries Medicare plans that individuals can purchase for themselves and Medicare plans that employers can provide to their employees.

Aetna’s individual plans are as follows:

  • Medicare Advantage HMO (health care is coordinated through an in-network primary care physician)
  • Medicare Advantage HMO-POS (includes some out-of-network coverage for certain services)
  • Medicare Advantage PPO (can see any doctor that accepts Medicare)
  • Medicare Advantage Dual Special Needs (DSNP) (Medicare Advantage plan for people with Medicaid and Medicare combined)

Most Aetna Medicare plans also include dental, vision, and hearing coverage.

Additional Aetna Medicare plan benefits include the following:

  • Resources for Living ® (assistance finding local resources)
  • SilverSneakers ® (fitness membership program)
  • Ask a nurse 24/7 
  • Aetna Rx home delivery

For Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage), Aetna offers the following:

  • SilverScript Choice (PDP)
  • SilverScript Plus (PDP)

These plans have no deductible for Tier 1 and Tier 2 prescriptions. The SilverScript Choice plan has a $215–$435 deductible for Tier 3-Tier 5 prescriptions. The SilverScript Plus plan has no deductible for Tier 3-Tier 5 medications. These numbers may vary slightly depending on your region. Some plans may not be available in every state. Both plans include a mail-order benefit. 

Aetna also offers Medicare Supplemental Insurance, or Medigap, insurance in some states. Medigap provides additional cost-sharing to cover some expenses that Medicare does not cover on its own. Interested consumers should visit Aetna’s website to learn more specific details.

Medicare plans available may vary depending on location.

Cigna Medicare

Cigna offers Medicare Advantage, Part D, and Medigap plans for individuals and employers. Its Medigap insurance plans are renewable for life and provide emergency medical coverage abroad.

Cigna’s supplemental Medicare insurance also includes access to a Health Information LineSM and Cigna Healthy Rewards® which provides discounts for health and wellness programs.

Cigna’s Medicare plans are available in most states.

Kaiser Permanente Medicare

Kaiser Permanente carries Medicare in the following states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.

Interested consumers can view plan specifics for their area on Kaiser Permanente’s website.

Kaiser Permanente offers the following plans:

  • Advantage Plus plans
  • Senior Advantage (HMO) plans
  • Medicare Advantage (HMO) plans
  • Medicare Plus (Cost) plans

The Senior Advantage, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Plus plans come in several tiers, which allows consumers more choices when finding coverage. 

Kaiser Permanente’s Advantage Plus plans include dental, hearing, and additional vision coverage. The Advantage Plus plans include participation in a Silver&Fit ® fitness program. It also has an higher premium.

Keep in mind that plan availability may vary by region.

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Plans for businesses and companies

One of the largest incentives that employers can offer current and potential hires is a good benefits package, including the following:

Because medical care is so expensive and the plans that can be purchased independently are not nearly as good as what most employers can offer, a good health insurance plan can be a deal maker or deal breaker for employees.

Aetna employer offerings

Aetna has group health insurance plans designed to meet the needs of small businesses, mid-size businesses, national accounts, and international businesses. 

The plans fall into the same categories Aetna offers independent buyers: Network Only, Network Option, Indemnity, and Medicare/retiree plans. These plans are also customizable to the business’s needs.

Aetna has programs and offerings geared for health care providers, hospitality workers, high-tech workers, and people in education.

Aetna also offers multi-employer labor funds, health insurance for public sector employers, voluntary benefit options, and retiree health care.

Supplemental insurance plans like dental and vision insurance through Aetna are also available.

Employer-provided Medicare

For business owners providing health insurance to individuals 65 and older, Aetna has several options:

  • Aetna Medicare Advantage
  • Standalone Aetna Medicare Prescription Drug

International health insurance

For employers that need to provide international health insurance to their employees, Aetna provides global health insurance plans. Some plans can also be customized.

In North America, Aetna offers the following:

  • Traditional Choice ® indemnity plans
  • Aetna HealthFund ® Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA)
  • Open Choice ® Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
  • Aetna International Expatriate Trust includes PPO medical plan, emergency assistance, pharmacy, vision, 24-Hour Nurse Line, counseling, and the Aetna Global Health Connections wellness program.
  • Aetna Ascent ® includes PPO medical benefits, pharmacy, vision, emergency assistance, counseling and mental health resources.
  • Aetna International WorldTraveler and WorldTraveler Plus plans include coverage to medical assistance services, travel assistance services, emergency assistance, and translation.
  • Aetna WorldTraveler Plus includes lost luggage benefit, trip interruption insurance, return of personal effects for evacuation, political and natural disaster assistance, indemnity medical coverage, prescriptions, accidental dental coverage, emergency assistance and evacuation. Business Travel Accident, dependent coverage, and sojourn coverage may also be added.

Aetna also offers additional international products and services like vision and dental coverage, emergency assistance services, and a 24-Hour Nurse Line.

More information on plans available thorugh Aenta for Latin America can be found by contacting Aetna directly.

Aetna SummitSM plans provide coverage for employees traveling to Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. 

These plans are fully customizable. Once a plan is chosen, it can be customized in the following ways:

  • Coverage area
  • Kind of underwriting
  • Coinsurance or excess options
  • Add Aetna travel insurance or Aetna personal accident insurance

Aetna SummitSM plans are not available for Thailand, the Philippines, Morocco, Oman, Jordan, or China. 

However, Aetna does provide two plans for coverage in the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions: International Healthcare Plan and Aetna Healthy Aessentials. 

It also provides coverage in Africa through the Executive Healthcare Plan.

Cigna employer offerings

Cigna offers seven kinds of plans that employers can provide their employees:

  • Cigna SureFit® (highly personalized plans available in some areas)
  • Open Access Plus (OAP) (access to Cigna’s nationwide network)
  • LocalPlus® (local provider network)
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) (in- and out-of-network coverage)
  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) (care overseen by Primary Care Provider (PCP))
  • Health Savings Account (HSA), Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) compatible plans
  • Network (care overseen by Primary Care Provider)
  • Indemnity (no network limitations)

Employer-provided Medicare

Cigna offers Medicare plans that employers can offer their employees and retirees. Plan options include Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans.

Cigna also has its own insurance plans designed to supplement Medicare plans. While these plans are not Medigap, they are a good option for those looking to supplement their Medicare plans.

In addition to these Medicare plans, Cigna also offers benefit administration and support services for finding prescription subsidies.

International health insurance

Cigna also offers international insurance programs to employers, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and government employees that can be customized based on needs.

For employers based in North America, it offers seven plans:

  • Cigna Global Health Advantage® 10+ (United States, flexible)
  • Cigna Global Health Advantage® 2-20 (United States, set plan designs)
  • Protect n’Go ® (designed for NGOs)
  • Short Term Abroad (short assignments abroad, unexpected illness, injury, and routine care)
  • Worldwide Advantage 2-20 (Canada, set plan designs)
  • Worldwide Advantage 10+ (Canada, flexible)
  • Medical Benefits Abroad (international business travelers)

Cigna also offers plans designed for government employees, overseas students, and health care travelers. You can also purchase Short Term Abroad health insurance if your employees go on business trips or do mission work.

Kaiser Permanente employer offerings

Kaiser Permanente offers health insurance plans designed for small businesses, large business, national or multi-state businesses, and federal employees. It also offers group Medicare plans.

Kaiser Permanente’s small business plans vary depending on location.

In Georgia and California, Kaiser Permanente has the following:

  • Copayment HMO
  • Deductible HMO
  • HRA- or HSA-qualified plans

In Colorado, Kaiser Permanente offers the following:

  • Copayment HMO
  • Deductible HMO
  • PPO plans
  • POS plans

In Hawaii, Kaiser Permanente offers the following:

  • Copayment HMO
  • Deductible HMO
  • Occupational Health Care (specific coverage for work-related injuries or illnesses)

In Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, Kaiser Permanente offers the following:

  • Copayment HMO
  • Deductible HMO
  • HRA- or HSA-qualified plans
  • POS 
  • Supplemental Benefit Plans (adds acupuncture, chiropractic, dental, and vision coverage)

In Oregon and southwest Washington, Kaiser Permanente has the following:

  • Traditional Copayment plans
  • Deductible Plans
  • Added Choice POS plans
  • HSA-qualified plans
  • Dental
  • Occupational Health Care

In some Washington counties, Kaiser Permanente provides the following:

  • Core Network Plans
  • PPO Plans
  • Dental
  • Occupational Health Care

Some of the options available in Washington are HSA-compatible.

For large businesses, Kaiser Permanente offers the following:

  • Traditional plans
  • Deductible plans
  • Consumer-directed health plans (HRA/HSA/FSA)
  • PPO
  • Point of Service
  • Out-of-area plans
  • Group Medicare
  • Occupational Health
  • Supplemental Benefits

For multi-state and national businesses, Kaiser Permanente offers the following:

  • Consumer-directed health plans
  • PPO, POS, and Out-of-Area plans
  • Traditional plans
  • Deductible plans

It also has health plan options for federal agencies.

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Dental and vision insurance

Dental and vision insurance are separate products that help meet dental and vision costs. Vision insurance helps cover routine eye exams and glasses. 

Aetna Dental Insurance

Aetna offers one dental plan to individuals and families. Aetna Dental ® Direct plan fully covers preventive treatment. If you’re switching to Aetna dental insurance from a similar plan, the waiting period for major services can be waived.

Aetna also offers a dental discount card. At participating dental clinics, you can receive a discount between 15 percent and 50 percent. The cost of this card starts at $7.99. While this card is not insurance, it can help you save on dental care.

Availability of the dental discount card and Aetna Dental® Direct varies by state.

Aetna also offers dental insurance plans through employers. These plans include Dental Maintenance Organization (DMO®) plans. You are required to get a referral from your dentist to see a specialist.

Aetna also offers Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and Participating Dental Network (PDN) plans. These plans offer out-of-network coverage, but rates are cheaper when you visit in-network providers.

Aetna also offers an indemnity plan. Indemnity plans are fee-for-service plans, so you pay for the care you receive.

Read Aetna Dental Insurance Customer Reviews

Aetna Vision Insurance

If you’re purchasing your own insurance, your Aetna health plan may include vision benefits for eye exams and even glasses or contacts. Check your plan’s coverage to make sure that it includes everything you need.

Aetna offers two vision plans available through employers. Aetna VisionSM Preferred and Aetna VisionSM. Aetna VIsionSM Preferred offers coverage for in- and out-of-network care. It also covers glasses from major retailers.

Aetna VistionSM offers two options: eye exam coverage and eyewear coverage. You can choose the option that best serves your needs.

Read Aetna Vision Insurance Customer Reviews

Cigna Dental Insurance

Cigna offers three dental plans for individual shoppers. Cigna Dental Preventive only offers coverage for preventive care, while the two other plans (Cigna Dental 1000 and Cigna Dental 1500) offer coverage for restorative care. Cigna Dental 1500 also offers coverage for orthodontic treatment.

Employers can offer employees a Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) plan, Dental Preferred Provider Organization (DPPO) plan, Dental Exclusive Provider Organization (DEPO) plan, or a dental indemnity plan.

The DHMO and DEPO plans offer in-network coverage, so plan members must see a participating dentist. The DPPO plan offers some out-of-network coverage, so members have more choice when choosing a dental care provider. However, rates tend to be lower when visiting an in-network dentist.

The dental indemnity plan does not have a network and members only pay for the care they receive.

Read Cigna Dental Insurance Customer Reviews

Cigna Vision Insurance

While it is difficult to tell whether or not Cigna offers vision insurance that individuals can purchase independently, Cigna does offer plans that employers can offer employees. The options are a Vision Preferred Provider Organization (VPPO) or a vision indemnity plan. The VPPO plan offers flexibility for choosing a vision care provider and lower rates for choosing an in-network provider. The vision indemnity plan has no network.

Read Cigna Vision Insurance Customer Reviews

Kaiser Permanente Dental and Vision Insurance

It’s unclear whether Kaiser Permanente offers dental insurance or vision insurance that individuals can purchase for themselves and for their families. However, Kaiser Permanente does offer dental and vision plans that businesses can offer employees.

Kaiser Permanente offers three dental plans in California: a fee-for-service (FFS) plan, a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), and a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan. These plans have different network and cost-sharing structures.

Employers outside of California may need to look elsewhere for a dental plan.

Kaiser Permanente offers one vision plan: Vision Essentials. It covers eye exams received from a Kaiser Permanente physician. It also covers prescription contacts, glasses, and sunglasses.

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Side-by-side comparison summaries

Finding a good health plan really boils down to the quality of the provider network, the cost-sharing structure, covered services, and the monthly premium. Finding a health plan that meets your needs may mean comparing similar plans across companies.

As you’re choosing between health insurance companies, you’ll want to pay attention to the plans each offer and customer reviews. Below are summaries of how Aetna, Cigna, and Kaiser Permanente stack up against each other in plan offerings and Best Company ratings and user reviews. 

Aetna vs. Cigna

While Cigna has a slightly higher overall score on Best Company, Aetna has a slightly higher user star rating and a lower percentage of 1-star reviews. Remember that negative reviews across these companies hit on similar themes. Reading through each company’s unique reviews can help you understand what to look out for with each company and make a better, informed decision for yourself.

Both Aetna and Cigna are great options when buying a health insurance plan independently for coverage within the United States and internationally. Cigna’s domestic plans have a few more perks than Aetna’s plans do.

Cigna and Aetna are also similar in their Medicare and Medigap plan offerings. The biggest difference is the inclusion of additional programs.

When choosing between Cigna and Aetna, consumers purchasing plans independently or buying Medicare should compare specific plan coverage, included network, and costs from both companies.

Consumers seeking Medicaid or CHIP will find options from Aetna.

Businesses of any size can find their needs met from either Aetna or Cigna. It’s worth comparing cost specifics for domestic plans and cost specifics, coverages, and regions for international plans to find the best deal.

Aetna vs. Kaiser Permanente

When it comes to Best Company ratings and user reviews, Aetna and Kaiser Permanente are fairly similar. However, Kaiser Permanente has a slightly higher overall score. Aetna has a higher user star-rating and a lower percentage of 1-star reviews, which give Aetna a slight advantage over Kaiser Permanete. Concerns reported in both companies' one-star reviews were similar, so read the most recent customer insight on their respective profiles. 

Aetna and Kaiser Permanente are similar in their domestic health insurance offerings for individuals and families. However, be aware that Aetna may offer more flexibility when choosing care providers with some of its plans. In contrast, Kaiser Permanente only offers coverage for care received by the providers it employs, which is similar to a network-only health plan structure.

Aetna stands out for its plan perks and offering of international insurance. While Kaiser Permanente stands out of its offering of Charitable Health Insurance.

With Medicaid and CHIP, the biggest difference between the two is the states available. If both companies offer Medicaid and CHIP in your state, it’s worth doing further research into what distinguishes the offerings of each company.

Kaiser Permanente’s and Aetna’s Medicare plans are also similar. What makes Aetna stand out with its Medicare offerings are the perks and Medigap products.

Employers seeking domestic health insurance for their employees can find good plans from both Aetna and Kaiser Permanente. However, if global health insurance is necessary, Aetna is a good option because Kaiser Permanente focuses on domestic health insurance.

Cigna vs. Kaiser Permanente

When it comes to ratings and reviews, Kaiser Permanente and Cigna are similarly rated on Best Company in the overall score and user ratings. If you’re choosing between these companies and comparing similar plans, read the most recent reviews and complaints on their respective profile pages to make an informed choice.

While Cigna could provide more general information about the plans it offers independent buyers, its plans stand out for the wide variety of discounts and other included programs. Cigna also offers a nice variety of supplemental health insurance plans that are great for people seeking additional coverage for specific situations.

Cigna is also a great choice for purchasing independent international health insurance.
Kaiser Permanente stands out for its Medicaid, CHIP, and Charitable Health Insurance offerings. For consumers interested in this kind of health insurance, Kaiser Permanente is the clear choice.

If you’re considering Kaiser Permanente, keep in mind that their health plans only cover care received at its medical facilities by the care providers it employs. This is different from the distinct provider network structures that other companies like Cigna offer.

If you’re interested in a more traditional network structure, like a Preferred Provider Network (PPO) that offers both in- and out-of-network coverage, Cigna may be a better option.

Both Cigna and Kaiser Permanente offer Medicare Advantage plans. The biggest differences between the two are the additional programs that are included with some plans.

Cigna also offers Medigap insurance, which is great for consumers looking for additional cost-sharing help.
Kaiser Permanente and Cigna both offer a nice selection of employer-provided health insurance plans. Employers who are choosing between the two should contact each company directly to compare pricing and coverage. 

Cigna also offers international insurance. Those seeking international insurance would need to work with Cigna.

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The Top Health Insurance Companies

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#1 BlueCross BlueShield chevron_right
7.8 Overall Score
3.6
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(368)
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#2 Oscar chevron_right
7.7 Overall Score
3.4
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(521)
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#3 Select Health chevron_right
7.5 Overall Score
3.8
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