Updated February 2021.
Most of the advice published about health insurance focuses on how to choose an insurance plan that meets your needs. This article focuses on choosing a health insurance company.
Specific plans and costs discussed in this article may vary depending on your location, age, and other demographic information.
(Ratings as of February 3, 2021)
Although each insurer has a fair number of 4- and 5-star reviews, each company also has a fair proportion of 1-star reviews. Aetna has 29 percent 1-star reviews. Cigna's is higher at 40 percent. Kaiser Permanente has 34 percent 1-star reviews.
Negative reviews are common in the health insurance industry. For all health insurance reviews received by Best Company in 2020, 24 percent were 1 star. In 2019, 41 percent were 1 star. Since we considered reviews from all years for Aetna, Cigna, and Kaiser Permanente, it's hard to say exactly how these companies compare to annual industry findings. However, the proportions of 1-star reviews each insurer has don't stand out considering industry patterns.
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. Health insurance 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 insurance provider. 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.
As of February 3, 2021, Aetna had a 6.6/10 overall score and a 3.4/5 star rating based on 189 user reviews.
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."
29 percent of Aetna reviews had a 1-star rating. Complaints include:
58 percent of Aetna reviews had a 4- or 5-star rating. Praise includes:
As of February 3, 2021, Cigna had an overall score of 7.7/10 and a 2.8/5 average star rating based on 204 user reviews.
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."
40 percent of Cigna reviews had a 1-star rating. Complaints include:
44 percent of Cigna reviews had a 4- or 5-star rating. Praise includes:
As of February 3, 2021, Kaiser Permanente has an overall score of 7.4/10 and a 3.2/5 average star rating based on 200 user reviews.
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."
34 percent of Kaiser Permanente reviews had a 1-star rating. Complaints include:
53 percent of Kaiser Permanente reviews had a 4- or 5-star rating. Praise includes:
While Cigna has a higher overall score on Best Company, Aetna has a 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.
Since Aetna does not offer individual and family health plans, Cigna is the way to go if you're buying your own medical plan. Consumers seeking student health insurance coverage, Medicaid, or CHIP will find options from Aetna.
Cigna and Aetna are also similar in their Medigap and Medicare plan offerings. The biggest difference is the inclusion of additional programs.
Businesses of any size can find their needs met from either Aetna or Cigna. Both companieis also offer international health plans. Cigna has targeted offerings for NGOs. It's worth comparing cost specifics for domestic plans and cost specifics, coverages, and regions for international plans to find the best deal.
When it comes to Best Company user reviews, Aetna and Kaiser Permanente are fairly similar. However, Kaiser Permanente has a higher overall score. Aetna has a slightly lower percentage of 1-star reviews, which gives 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 Best Company profiles.
As Aetna does not offer individual and family health plans, Kaiser Permanente stands out. Remember that 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.
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 Best Company profile pages to make an informed choice.
While Cigna could provide more general information about the plans it offers independent buyers, it 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 when choosing between the two insurers.