Blue California ranks high for affordability and customer service. It’s No. 7 on Insure.com’s 2023 Best Health Insurance Companies list – earning 3.3 stars out of 5.
John is the editorial director for CarInsurance.com, Insurance.com and Insure.com. Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.
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Blue Shield of California gets high marks as a good all-around health insurance provider. It’s a frontrunner for people who are looking for an insurer that delivers high customer satisfaction combined with good value for the money.
Blue Shield of California is seventh on Insure.com’s list of the Best Health Insurance Companies for 2023.
The company received an impressive 4 out of 5 stars from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. NCQA evaluates healthcare plans on, among other things, member satisfaction.
Of course, Blue California is largely limited to residents of the Golden State.
AM Best's Financial Strength Rating is an independent opinion of an insurer's financial strength and ability to meet its ongoing insurance policy and contract obligations.
Below is Insure.com’s review of the company. It’s based on third-party metrics and our in-depth survey of insurance customers. Find the full methodology here, including an explanation of our survey scores.
Blue California is rated well for affordability among the health insurers we ranked. The company also received one of the highest marks for low deductibles.
Below is a look at how Blue California rates in the Golden State compare with those of Anthem and Kaiser Permanente for a similar plan. These are 2023 healthcare exchange rates for a single, 40-year-old male in excellent health with an annual income of $70,000.
Our survey found that 91% of Blue California customers give it high marks for customer satisfaction, one of the highest ratings in our survey. It wasn’t far behind the top company, Kaiser Permanente, which had high satisfaction marks from 93% of customers. It was in the middle of the pack, however, when looking at average J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Study scores, which measure health plans for overall customer satisfaction.
Blue California could do a better job of settling complaints before they get escalated. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) compares major providers on how many complaints are filed with state regulators. If a provider has a rate that is equal to its customer base, it receives a 1.0 score. If it has twice as many complaints as its share of business, it gets a 2.0. Blue California had a score of 3.78.
Customers gave Blue California top marks for policy offerings. It and Kaiser Permanente had the highest scores in this category. Blue California offers a wide range of policies for individuals and families, as well as employers. It also offers programs covering vision and dental care and offers life insurance.
Most Blue California customers would recommend the insurer to others. At 87%, that was about the middle of the pack in our survey. Kaiser Permanente finished on top, with 96% of its customers saying they would.
The majority of customers say Blue California has earned their trust. The company received a score of 70%. But a number of insurers did better. Kaiser Permanente led the survey at 87%.
Most do, but not all. When customers were asked if they planned to renew with Blue California, 83% said they would. While high, that was among the lower rankings in our survey. It was a bit surprising as providers with a strong customer satisfaction ranking generally earned higher loyalty marks.
The company led this category among the companies we ranked. Florida Blue and Humana also did well in this category.
Blue Shield started in 1938 when the California Medical Association House of Delegates created the California Physicians’ Service (CPS). By 1940, more than 20,000 Californians had subscribed, and some 5,000 physicians joined the healthcare service plan
Blue California, as it’s also known, became one of the founders of the National Association of Blue Shield plans in 1946, which was later renamed the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Today, Blue California has about 4.7 million members and a provider network that includes some 36,000 physicians and about 240 preferred hospitals.
It has a strong reputation for investing back into the community through its Blue Shield of California Foundation.
Blue Shield of California website. Accessed November 2022.
Insure.com in the fall of 2022 surveyed more than 1,500 insurance consumers (775 people with health insurance). The survey was conducted by online market research company Slice MR.
Respondents were asked to name their insurer and then grade it in the following categories – customer satisfaction, ease of service and policy offerings. The percentage of respondents who said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their insurer is presented in the results.
Survey score calculation: Respondents were then asked to rank their insurer’s top three attributes out of more than a dozen presented – such as its provider network. For a number one choice, five points were given; for a second choice, three points; and for a third choice, a single point. The total points for each choice – first, second and third – were then divided by the number of each company’s customers who responded to that survey question to create a percentage. Those percentages are presented in the results as scores.
Respondents were then asked if they would recommend their insurer to someone else and if they planned to renew their policies. The percentage who said yes is presented in the results.
They also were given the statement “I trust my insurance company” and asked if they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement. The percentage of those who said they agreed or strongly agreed is presented in the results.
The editors compiled the survey results and then selected – based on the number of survey responses – the top companies for further evaluation. Insure.com needed 20 or more of a company’s customers to respond to the survey for that insurer to be included in the ranking, although in some categories the editors did consider companies with 18 or 19 responses.
They then collected AM Best financial stability ratings and National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) ratings, which evaluate health plans on, among other things, member satisfaction.
With the help of Prof. David Marlett, Ph.D., managing director of the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center at Appalachian State University, the editors created a rating system to determine which insurance companies were best in each sector. For health insurers, we used the following weights to calculate the overall score for each company:
Each insurer was awarded from 1 to 5 stars. No insurer in our star ranking received less than 1 star and the highest possible ranking is 5 stars.