Highmark Medicare Advantage 2024 Review

Highmark Medicare Advantage plans are highly rated but available in only four states.
Kate Ashford, CSA®
By Kate Ashford, CSA® 
Edited by Holly Carey

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best of the blues
Highmark Medicare Advantage



CMS Star Rating

Highmark is a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield family, which includes 33 independent companies. Highmark plans are highly rated and score well for member satisfaction, but plans are available in only four states.

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Speak to a licensed insurance agent on askchapter.org


from askchapter.org

States available

4 states

Members in high-rated plans

High (90% or more)

Member experience

4.06 (Above average)

States available

4 states

Members in high-rated plans

High (90% or more)

Member experience

4.06 (Above average)


  • Higher-than-average overall star rating from CMS.
  • Member experience ratings are well above average.


  • Available in only four states: Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
  • Has the smallest percentage of $0-premium plans of the major providers.

Highmark is a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield family, which includes 33 independent companies that together form the third-largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans


Highmark’s plans get high marks on both member experience and plan performance, but its Medicare Advantage plans are available in only four states

Highmark. Our Businesses. Accessed Oct 19, 2023.

Here’s what you should know about Highmark Medicare Advantage.

Highmark Medicare Advantage pros and cons

Highmark’s offerings have advantages and disadvantages.


  • Highmark member experience ratings, including care coordination and customer service, beat those of major providers.

  • Weighted by enrollment, Highmark’s Medicare Advantage contracts get an average Medicare star rating of 4.42 stars out of 5 from the CMS

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 2024 Star Ratings Data Tables (Oct 13 2023) (ZIP). Accessed Oct 19, 2023.

  • Highmark plans offer a number of benefits, from Part B Premium Giveback perks to 24/7 support.


  • Highmark offers Medicare Advantage plans in only four states: Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

  • Highmark has the smallest percentage of $0-premium plans (38%) of the bigger providers

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CY2024_Landscape_Files_Final_20230905 (ZIP). Accessed Oct 19, 2023.

Highmark Medicare star ratings

Average star rating, weighted by enrollment: 4.42

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services maintains its own database of star ratings on every Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plan, ranging from best (5 stars) to worst (1 star). The agency bases these ratings on plans’ quality of care and measurements of customer satisfaction, and ratings may change from year to year.

All Medicare Advantage plans are evaluated on health plan measures, and Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage are also evaluated on drug plan measures.

Based on the most recent year of data and weighted by enrollment, Highmark Medicare Advantage plans get an average rating of 4.42.

For comparison, the average star rating for plans from all providers in 2024 is 4.04

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 10.13.23 Fact Sheet - 2024 Medicare Advantage and Part D Ratings (PDF). Accessed Oct 19, 2023.

Of the Highmark Medicare Advantage contracts with star ratings in 2024, all are rated 4 stars or higher. Hence, all of Highmark’s members are in highly rated contracts.

You can find a plan’s rating with the Medicare plan finding tool.

What does Highmark Medicare Advantage cost?

Costs for Medicare Advantage plans will depend on your plan, geographic location and health needs.


One of the costs to consider is the plan’s premium. About 4 in 10 of Highmark’s Medicare Advantage plans offer $0 premiums.

Even as a Medicare Advantage user, you’ll still be responsible for paying your Medicare Part B premium, which is $174.70 per month in 2024

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Costs. Accessed Oct 19, 2023.
. (Most people pay this standard amount, but if your income is above a certain threshold, you’ll pay more.)

Copays, coinsurance and deductibles

Requirements for copays, coinsurance and deductibles vary depending on your plan, location and the services you use. Other out-of-pocket costs to consider include:

  • Whether the plan covers any part of your monthly Medicare Part B premium.

  • The plan’s yearly deductibles and any other deductibles, such as a drug deductible.

  • Copayments and/or coinsurance for each visit or service. For instance, there may be a $10 copay for seeing your primary doctor and a $45 copay for seeing a specialist.

  • The plan’s in-network and out-of-network out-of-pocket maximums.

  • Whether your medical providers are in-network or out-of-network or how often you may go out of network for care.

  • Whether you require extra benefits and whether the plan charges for them.

Here are examples of Highmark Medicare Advantage costs for the most popular plans in a mid-range city:

Highmark Medicare Advantage plan


Complete Blue PPO Distinct (PPO)

Monthly premium: $27.

Out-of-pocket max: $5,500.


  • Primary care: $0.

  • Specialist: $10.

  • Tier 1 prescription drugs: $0.

Community Blue Medicare HMO Signature (HMO)

Monthly premium: $0.

Out-of-pocket max: $6,200.


  • Primary care: $0.

  • Specialist: $25.

  • Tier 1 prescription drugs: $0.

Security Blue HMO-POS ValueRx (HMO-POS)

Monthly premium: $48.

Out-of-pocket max: $5,500.


  • Primary care: $0.

  • Specialist: $40.

  • Tier 1 prescription drugs: $0.

Selected plans are available in ZIP code 15106.

To get a sense of costs, use Medicare’s website to compare information among available plans in your area. You can select by insurance carrier to see only UnitedHealthcare plans or compare across carriers. You can also shop directly from UnitedHealthcare’s website by entering your ZIP code, and you’ll be able to compare the plans available.

Available Highmark Medicare Advantage plans

Highmark Medicare Advantage plans vary in terms of structure, costs and benefits available. The company offers HMO and PPO plans as well as stand-alone prescription drug plans. Highmark also has a plan designed for veterans.

Plan offerings include the following types:

A health maintenance organization (HMO) generally requires that you use a specific network of doctors and hospitals. You may need a referral from your primary doctor to see a specialist, and out-of-network benefits are usually limited.

HMO point of service (POS) plans are HMO plans that allow members to get some out-of-network services, but they’ll pay more for those services.

Preferred provider organization (PPO) plans provide the most freedom, allowing you to see any provider that accepts the insurance. You may not need to choose a primary doctor, and you don’t need referrals to see specialists. You can seek out-of-network care, although it may cost more than seeing an in-network doctor.

Special needs plans (SNPs) restrict membership to people with certain diseases or characteristics. Hence, the benefits, network and drug formularies are tailored to the needs of those members. Highmark offers one type of SNP:

  • Dual-Eligible SNP: For people who are entitled to Medicare and who also qualify for assistance from a state Medicaid program.

Available Highmark Part D prescription drug plans

Most of Highmark’s Medicare Advantage plans include Part D drug coverage, but the company also sells stand-alone Part D prescription drug plans, or PDPs, in two states: Pennsylvania and West Virginia. These plans provide drug coverage for people enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, so they don’t provide medical coverage.

Highmark offers two plan options in each state where it sells PDPs: a standard option and a “complete” option with enhanced coverage. For example, if you live in Erie, Pennsylvania, you have these two options from Highmark:

  • Blue RX PDP Plus.

  • Blue RX PDP Complete.

Here’s how those two plans compare:

Plan feature

Blue RX PDP Plus

Blue RX PDP Complete

Monthly premium



Annual deductible.



Drug copay, Tier 1*



Drug copay, Tier 2*



Drug copay, Tier 3*

20% (Tier 3 insulin $35).

$40 (Tier 3 insulin $35).

*For up to a 31-day supply of a covered Part D prescription drug at a preferred retail pharmacy after meeting any applicable deductible.

Premiums, deductibles, covered drugs, costs for each tier and pharmacy arrangements all differ by plan. You can enter information about your prescriptions and choose your pharmacy on Anthem’s website to check how each available plan would cover your medications.

Third-party ratings

There are a few companies that weigh in on health plans or on the strength of the company in question, and we’ve included two here:

AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A (Excellent)

AM Best is a credit rating agency that specializes in the insurance industry. In September 2023, AM Best affirmed its Financial Strength Rating of A (Excellent) for Highmark and its life/health subsidiaries


An A rating in this category indicates that AM Best believes Anthem has an excellent ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations.

J.D. Power Ranking

In its 2023 U.S. Medicare Advantage Study — the ninth it's done so far — J.D. Power measured member satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans based on eight factors ranging from level of trust to how well a provider resolves problems or complaints. The study was fielded in the five biggest Medicare markets: California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. On these measures, Highmark placed second of all major providers in Pennsylvania (one of the two markets from the study in which Highmark has plans)


Highmark service area

Highmark Medicare Advantage plans are available in four states — Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — and nearly 400,000 people are enrolled in Highmark plans

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Monthly Enrollment by Contract. Accessed Oct 19, 2023.

Highmark saw some of the highest Medicare Advantage enrollment gains in 2023 among the Blues plans. (The Chartis Group, a health care consulting firm, attributes some of this growth to Highmark acquiring more stake in Gateway, a nonprofit plan in which Highmark previously had partial ownership


About Highmark

Highmark, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was created in 1996 when Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Blue Shield consolidated operations. Highmark is the fourth-largest company in the Blue Cross Blue Shield family. Highmark offers health insurance for individuals and families, dental insurance, Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, Medicare Supplement Insurance, and other insurance coverage such as fertility treatment benefits and travel insurance. The company also offers insurance for businesses.

Highmark customer service

Highmark Medicare Advantage members can contact their plan’s customer service in the following ways:

  • Call the number on their member ID card from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time seven days a week.

  • Request a call from a Highmark Medicare Advisor.

  • Connect with Highmark on X, formerly known as Twitter: @Highmark_BCBS or @Highmark_BS.

Compare Medicare Advantage providers

Get more information below about some of the major Medicare Advantage providers. These insurers offer plans in most states. The plans you can choose from will depend on your ZIP code and county.

Still deciding on the right carrier? Compare Medicare Advantage plans

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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