Blue Cross Blue Shield vs. UnitedHealthcare: Medicare Advantage Comparison

UHC has the biggest network, but some BCBS companies offer higher star ratings.
Kate Ashford, CSA®
By Kate Ashford, CSA® 
Published
Edited by Holly Carey

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Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is a collective of 33 independent companies, offers Medicare Advantage plans in most U.S. states, but ratings vary across companies — some perform better than others. Member experience ratings overall are above average for major providers. Benefits available vary by company; your preference may depend on your local BCBS provider.

UnitedHealthcare is the biggest Medicare Advantage provider and offers the largest Medicare Advantage network, although star ratings from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are slightly below the industry average. UHC member experience ratings are middle of the road.

Here’s a look at how BCBS and UnitedHealthcare compare.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage

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.

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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.

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage

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UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage - UHC

UnitedHealthcare

3.87

CMS Star Rating

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans are widely available and boast the largest Medicare Advantage provider network, although member experience ratings are average.

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from UnitedHealthcare

States available

49 states and Washington, D.C.


Members in high-rated plans

Medium (50% to 89%)


Member experience

3.12 (Average)


States available

49 states and Washington, D.C.


Members in high-rated plans

Medium (50% to 89%)


Member experience

3.12 (Average)


Pros

  • Largest Medicare Advantage medical network of all companies, with more than 1 million providers.
  • Largest Medicare Advantage dental network, and all standard plans offer dental coverage.
  • Available in 49 states and Washington, D.C.

Cons

  • Member experience scores are average.
  • Offers one of the highest-priced special needs plans, although lower-priced plans are also available.

Other factors to consider

Provider size

Largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Advantage enrollment

More than 8.9 million.

Percent of plans rated 4 stars or higher

53%.

Percent of plans with $0 premium

69%.

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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