Aetna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Medicare Advantage Comparison

Your choice between Aetna and BCBS Medicare Advantage may largely depend on where you live.
Kate Ashford, CSA®
By Kate Ashford, CSA® 
Updated
Edited by Holly Carey

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Although both providers are among the biggest in the Medicare Advantage field, Blue Cross Blue Shield is a collective of 33 independent companies that are locally owned and operated, which means they vary in terms of benefits and quality of plans. Some Blues, like Highmark, have higher-than-average star ratings from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), while others don’t fare as well.

Aetna offers a strong menu of benefits, plans are widely available and member experience scores are favorable, but the provider’s star ratings fall just below the industry average.

Here’s a look at how Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield compare:

Aetna Medicare Advantage

Aetna Medicare Advantage

Aetna

3.98

CMS Star Rating

Aetna Medicare Advantage plans are widely available and offer a variety of extra benefits. Member experience scores are also high, although star ratings fall just below the industry average.

M-F 9am-9pm ET, Sa 10am-9pm ET

Speak to a licensed insurance agent on askchapter.org

GET A QUOTE

from askchapter.org

States available

46 states and Washington, D.C.


Members in high-rated plans

Medium (50% to 89%)


Member experience

3.79 (Above average)


States available

46 states and Washington, D.C.


Members in high-rated plans

Medium (50% to 89%)


Member experience

3.79 (Above average)


Pros

  • In addition to dental, vision and hearing, many plans offer perks like an over-the-counter allowance, meal delivery and in-home health visits.
  • More than 8 in 10 Medicare-eligible beneficiaries have access to a $0-premium Aetna plan.
  • Available in 46 states and Washington, D.C.

Cons

  • Customer satisfaction lands below industry average in some major Medicare markets.

Other factors to consider

Provider size

4th-largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Advantage enrollment

More than 3.3 million.

Percent of plans rated 4 stars or higher

59%.

Percent of plans with $0 premium

71%.

Plans available

HMO, HMO-POS, PPO, SNP.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage

Best for local support
Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage

Blue Cross Blue Shield

3.86

CMS Star Rating

Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are widely available and affordable, but some companies earn higher marks than others on member satisfaction.

M-F 9am-9pm ET, Sa 10am-9pm ET

Speak to a licensed insurance agent on askchapter.org

GET A QUOTE

from askchapter.org

States available

48 states and Puerto Rico


Members in high-rated plans

Medium (50% to 89%)


Member experience

3.39 (Above average)


States available

48 states and Puerto Rico


Members in high-rated plans

Medium (50% to 89%)


Member experience

3.39 (Above average)


Pros

  • BCBS companies offer plans in 48 states and Puerto Rico.
  • $0-premium BCBS plans are available in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
  • BCBS plans offer extra benefits like chronic condition management and preloaded debit cards for over-the-counter items.

Cons

  • Ratings and member satisfaction vary among BCBS companies, and some score lower than others. You may not have access to a highly rated BCBS company.
  • BCBS companies offer special needs plans in only half of U.S. states.

Other factors to consider

Provider size

3rd-largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Advantage enrollment

4.4 million.

Percent of plans rated 4 stars or higher

43%.

Percent of plans with $0 premium

57%.

Plans available

HMO, HMO-POS, PPO, PFFS, SNP.

Find the right Medicare Advantage plan

It’s important to do your research before selecting a Medicare Advantage plan for yourself. Here are some questions to consider asking:

  • What are the plan’s costs? Do you understand what the plan’s premium, deductibles, copays and/or coinsurance will be? Can you afford them?

  • Is your doctor in-network? If you have a preferred medical provider or providers, make sure they participate in the plan’s network.

  • Are your prescriptions covered? If you’re on medication, it’s crucial to understand how the plan covers it. What tier are your prescription drugs on, and are there any coverage rules that apply to them?

  • Is there dental coverage? Does the plan offer routine coverage for vision, dental and hearing needs?

  • Are there extras? Does the plan offer any extra benefits, such as fitness memberships, transportation benefits or meal delivery?

If you have additional questions about Medicare, visit Medicare.gov or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227, TTY 877-486-2048).

Still deciding on the right carrier? Compare Medicare Advantage plans

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