Kaiser, a top performer in a number of areas in our health insurance customer survey, including policy offerings and most trustworthy, is No. 1 on Insure.com’s 2023 Best Health Insurance Companies list – earning 4.2 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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If you’re looking for a health insurer that provides great customer satisfaction and has strong loyalty, then look no further than Kaiser Permanente.
Kaiser, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, was a top performer in a number of areas in our health insurance customer survey, including policy offerings and most trustworthy. The company also received the highest National Committee for Quality Assurance ranking – 4.5 out of 5 stars – of the top 10 companies in our survey. NCQA evaluates healthcare plans on, among other things, member satisfaction.
Not surprisingly, it also got the highest marks for whether customers would recommend it to others.
Kaiser ranked second No. 1 overall in Insure.com’s list of the Best Health Insurance Companies for 2023 with a star rating of 4.2 (or, more precisely, 4.164) out of 5 stars.
Achieving that high level of customer satisfaction, however, doesn’t come without a cost, and it’s not the best place to go looking for a bargain. Kaiser didn’t score especially well among the top insurers for affordability.
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.
Customers are highly satisfied with the service and offerings provided by Kaiser, but it didn’t rate highly in our survey for affordability. Among the top health insurance providers, it ranked in the lower half. But, it’s important to remember Kaiser is among the best of the best in other categories.
Below is a look at how Kaiser’s rates in California compare with other insurers with similar plans. While the company didn’t score well for affordability, some rates stack up relatively well against the competition. These are 2023 healthcare exchange rates for a single, 40-year-old male in excellent health with an annual income of $70,000.
Kaiser knows how to make its customers happy. Our survey found that Kaiser customers rank it best for customer satisfaction. Not surprisingly, this also resulted in top marks for trustworthiness and whether customers would recommend Kaiser to others. It also rated well against other insurers in an average of J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Study scores, which measure health plans for overall customer satisfaction.
Our survey found that 91% of respondents are happy with the policy offerings from Kaiser. Only Blue Shield of California was able to match Kaiser in this category.
Absolutely. Kaiser had the highest score in our survey, with 96% of respondents saying they’d recommend the company to others. This isn’t surprising given that it was also tops for customer satisfaction.
Kaiser has earned the trust of its customers, with 87% of respondents saying they trust their company. That was the highest ranking of any health insurer in our survey.
Yes, they do. High customer satisfaction also translates into strong loyalty, with 93% of Kaiser customers saying they plan to renew their insurance. Kaiser finished right behind Anthem in this category among the companies we ranked.
Kaiser scored in the bottom half of the results when customers were asked to rate its online experience. Granted, none of the bigger insurers did well here. And Kaiser is working to improve its digital offering. The company recently launched a redesigned customer service application which has already received several design awards for its innovation. Its app has a strong 4.3 out of a possible 5 stars in the Apple App Store.
While Kaiser customers say it excels in customer service and its offerings, they didn’t rate it highly for having low deductibles.
A healthcare provider network is a group of doctors, specialists and hospitals that provide services to insured members at a lower cost than providers outside the network. A strong provider network can be a key consideration when shopping for a health plan. Kaiser didn’t perform as well in this category as some of its top competitors.
In 1945, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser partnered with founding physician Sidney R. Garfield, MD, to open a system of prepaid care to the public in Northern California. Unions viewed the plan as labor-friendly and affordable and formed a large membership base in the formative years.
In 1950, Kaiser started the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing to help fill a nursing shortage following World War II and in 1956 Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. was established as an independent nonprofit California corporation.
Kaiser established the Kaiser Foundation Harbor Hospital in 1957, the first hospital in the country built for members of an employer-sponsored health care plan. It initially provided care to International Longshore and Warehouse Union employees and their families.
In 1976, as healthcare was changing, Kaiser Permanente’s demonstrated affordability was specifically acknowledged as they were recognized as the best health plan model for the groundbreaking Health Maintenance Organization Act, signed into law in December 1973. Kaiser had turned all of their health plans into qualified HMOs by 1976.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Kaiser dramatically increased its telehealth system. Virtual care visits rose from about 15% of all visits to about 80%, including more than 30,000 a day via video.
Today, Kaiser is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, serving some 12.6 million members. Through its Permanente Medical Groups it operates 39 hospitals, 737 medical offices and has more than 23,000 physicians and 65,000 nurses. Its operations are primarily focused on the West and Kaiser recently announced it would invest $100 million in Colorado to expand its medical facilities to serve a growing membership in that state.
Kaiser. 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.