The Best Health Insurance in Alabama
MoneyGeek’s pick for the best health insurance provider in Alabama is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, scoring 88 out of 100. This insurance company effectively balances affordability, customer service and plan options, making it one of the top health insurance companies in Alabama.
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When choosing between Alabama health insurance companies, it’s important to weigh your potential health care needs against the cost of treatment. Customer service, plan options and overall satisfaction should also factor in your decision.
Alabama has two primary health insurance marketplace providers — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and Bright Health — with UnitedHealthcare joining in 2022. MoneyGeek’s analysis shows that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is the better choice across the board.
The Best Health Insurance in Alabama
Best Health Insurance in Alabama Overall
According to MoneyGeek’s scoring system, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBS of Alabama) received an 88 out of 100, making it MoneyGeek's pick for the best medical insurance provider in Alabama.
Compared to other marketplace providers, BCBS of Alabama touts lower average out-of-pocket maximums, higher customer satisfaction scores and more metal tier options. Of course, each plan is different, and the right one for you will depend on your personal health care needs.
Best Overall: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama (88/100)
Largest health care benefits provider in Alabama
High customer satisfaction
Offers plan options across all metal tiers
Lacks a central division, regionally owned
Limits out-of-network coverage to emergency services
MoneyGeek analyzed the following categories to establish an overall score. While the overall score is out of 100, each component is scaled from one to five, with five being the most favorable. The overall best health insurance in Alabama resulted in the following scores:
- Overall Score: 88/100
- Cost Score: 5/5
- Customer Service Score: 3.5/5
- Plan Options Score: 4/5
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is an independently owned and operated subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, this division is accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and has more than two million members statewide.
In addition to traditional health insurance plans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama offers various account-based plan options. These include those with a health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), limited flexible spending account (LFSA) and dependent care reimbursement account (DCRA).
To calculate the scores of each health insurance company in Alabama, MoneyGeek evaluated cost, customer satisfaction and plan data obtained from the Health Insurance Exchange Public Use Files, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index. We adjusted the weightings to establish the best company for different categories.
Unless specified otherwise, MoneyGeek used a sample profile of a 40-year-old policyholder to reflect rates according to the Health Insurance Marketplace Public Use Files. We averaged plan rates to get a general picture of costs for a specific company. However, your health insurance quotes in Alabama will vary based on your unique characteristics, like health needs, age and family size.
Best Health Insurance Runner-Up
Bright Health is MoneyGeek’s runner-up for best health insurance in Alabama, receiving a score of 65 out of 100. This provider has a higher average out-of-pocket maximum and a below-average customer satisfaction rating but performs relatively well in terms of options across metal tiers.
Runner-Up: Bright Health (65/100)
Covers some preventive care services
Variety of metal tier choices
Free telehealth visits
Free mental health coverage on some plans
Limited to select counties in Alabama
Out-of-network services not always covered
MoneyGeek analyzed the following categories to establish an overall score. While the overall score is out of 100, each component is scaled from one to five, with five being the most favorable. The best health insurance in Alabama runner-up resulted in the following scores:
- Overall Score: 65/100
- Cost Score: 4/5
- Customer Service Score: 2/5
- Plan Options Score: 3/5
Starting in 2016, Bright Health has been known for its preventive services coverage, including nutrition and diet counseling, mammograms, cardiovascular disease screening and annual wellness visits. Some Bright Health plans offer mental health benefits in addition to coverage for adult dental and vision. And if you need fast medical consultation, Bright Health provides telehealth services through its partnering primary care providers and Doctor On Demand.
However, Bright Health is a newer health care provider and has already accumulated some complaints in other states. Bright Health also only works with a relatively small network of providers, which limits health care options for the policyholder.
When shopping for a health insurance plan, it’s essential to take a deep dive into your specific health care needs:
- Ensure your preferred service providers are within the plan’s network. This includes physicians, hospitals and pharmacies.
- Check that the plan at least partially covers your prescriptions or other medications.
- Understand the costs of each plan outside the monthly premium — deductible, copay, maximum out-of-pocket, etc. — and ensure you can afford them.
It also helps to understand marketplace metal tiers. These consist of Bronze or Extended Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Low-cost Catastrophic plans are sometimes available to policyholders under 30 years old who fall within a certain income bracket.
Best Health Insurance in Alabama on a Budget
If affordability is a priority, cheap Alabama health insurance is available for individuals and families. Keep in mind that plans with lower monthly premiums tend to have higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Contemplating your expected health care needs will help you determine whether this strategy is right for you.
Best Cheap Health Insurance
MoneyGeek determined that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is the best affordable marketplace health insurance company in Alabama. Its maximum out-of-pocket cost averages at $6,988.
With BCBS of Alabama, policyholders can choose from five coverage tiers. Monthly costs average as follows:
- Catastrophic: $310
- Expanded Bronze: $361
- Silver: $449
- Gold: $547
- Platinum: $466
Plan costs will vary based on age, location and family size.
MoneyGeek found that Bright Health is a somewhat less affordable option for health insurance in Alabama. This company’s average maximum out-of-pocket cost is $8,044.
Compared to BCBS of Alabama, Bright Health offers fewer metal tiers and a worse record for customer satisfaction.
If you’re looking to save on your Alabama health insurance and are generally healthy, you may consider a Catastrophic or Bronze plan. These plans typically offer lower premiums in exchange for higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.
Alternatively, you may be eligible for a cost-sharing reduction on Silver plans or other income-based subsidies. BCBS of Alabama offers six plans that qualify for state-exchange financial assistance:
- Blue Value Gold
- Blue Cross Select Gold
- Blue Value Silver
- Blue Cross Select Silver
- Blue Saver Bronze
- Blue HSA Bronze
Visit the HealthCare.gov federal health insurance marketplace to learn more about these plans.
Best Health Insurance in Alabama for Customer Service
The purpose of health insurance is to protect you from unmanageable medical costs, especially in the event of an emergency. To this end, choosing an Alabama medical insurance provider that works efficiently in claim reimbursement and offers quality customer service is vital.
Best Health Insurance for Customer Service
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is MoneyGeek’s pick for the health care provider with the best customer service in Alabama. The company has NCQA accreditation and earned an above-average score of 3.5 on customer satisfaction, indicating that policyholders are generally happy with the patient experience, preventive medicine and treatment from BCBS of Alabama.
Alabama’s other primary health care provider, Bright Health, is a newer company both nationally and in the Alabama marketplace. Although this company has less available data, Bright Health has collected numerous complaints in other parts of the country according to the NAIC. Its customer service score is 2.1, just below average.
Choosing the right health insurance company in Alabama can save you time and energy. Common consumer complaints include:
- Surprise policy costs
- Lack of availability of customer service agents
- Improper or inefficient claims management
- Delayed reimbursement and settlement offers
Reaching out to customer service before committing to a plan can help you confirm that a provider will swiftly address claims and is transparent about the total cost of your policy.
Best HSA-Eligible Health Insurance in Alabama
If you have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), getting a health savings account (HSA) can help you maximize your untaxed dollars. An HSA can lower your health insurance costs since it covers co-insurance, deductibles and other related expenses.
As of 2022, the minimum deductible for an HDHP for individual and family plans is $1,400 and $2,800. Note that you cannot use your HSA funds to pay your premiums.
Best Health Insurance with HSA-Eligible Plans
MoneyGeek’s research found that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is the best health insurance provider in Alabama that offers HSAs. Based on the sample profile of a 40-year-old policyholder, the average monthly premium of an HSA-eligible plan with BCBS of Alabama is $346. The company offers both Bronze and Silver options.
By comparison, the average premium for the HSA-eligible plan from Bright Health is $564.
Although a flexible spending account (FSA) is easy to confuse with a health savings account (HSA), they are very different in ownership. Both arrangements allow policyholders to use their tax-free savings to pay for medical costs.
However, whereas your employer owns the FSA, you own your HSA. Another difference is that HSA funds roll over each year, but FSA funds do not, forcing you to use them before they expire.
Best Health Insurance in Alabama for Families
A family plan is similar to an individual plan but covers a spouse, dependents and sometimes parents under one policy. Depending on the provider, dependents may be covered until they are 26 years old (sometimes longer).
Like individual health insurance plans, family rates are based on several factors. Premiums will generally increase with the number of people on your plan. However, it’s still often cheaper to group members under a family health insurance plan rather than pay for each person individually.
Best Health Insurance for Families
According to MoneyGeek’s analysis, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is the better health insurance option for families in terms of cost, coverage and customer service. The average premium for family plans with this company is $1,357 for a family of four.
Bright Health is MoneyGeek’s runner-up for best Alabama health insurance provider for families, offering fewer tier options and a more expensive average premium of $1,711 for a family of four.
Family plan rates are determined partly by the number of family members covered and the chosen metal tier. The chart below shows average national premiums for an individual versus several family sizes.
Family of 3
Family of 4
Best Health Insurance in Alabama for Seniors
Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans are usually reserved for individuals aged 65 and older. However, early retirees may want to consider health insurance options for the years before they become eligible for Medicare. Because seniors usually require more medical care, they can expect to pay higher premiums.
Best Health Insurance for Seniors
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is MoneyGeek’s top-choice health provider for seniors in Alabama. The average premium for seniors with BCBS of Alabama plans is $939 per month. Additionally, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama scored above average for customer service and plan options.
As another option, Bright Health’s average plan premium for a 60-year-old policyholder is $1,214. In addition to higher costs, Bright Health scored lower on customer service and plan options than Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.
Marketplace or state-exchange health plans are great options for early retirees who don’t yet qualify for Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans. If you’re planning to retire early, it’s wise to shop marketplace plans as soon as your employer-sponsored coverage ends to avoid a lapse in coverage.
How to Find the Best Health Insurance for You
Alabama's best health care insurance companies blend affordable coverage with plan options and quality customer service. However, the ideal insurance provider will vary per person based on needs and preferences.
To find the best Alabama health insurer for you or your family, MoneyGeek recommends following these steps:
- Examine the benefits: The summary of benefits offers a snapshot of a plan’s commonly encountered expenses. Compare your health care needs with the information found there.
- Review all associated costs: Don’t stop at the premium — review the copays, co-insurance, deductible and maximum out-of-pocket expenses to get the complete picture of what you’ll pay for a given plan.
- Start with Silver: If you’re unsure where to begin, start with a Silver plan. This middle-of-the-road option often comes with subsidies that can help reduce your premium.
- Assess your prescriptions: Although some plans offer free or discounted medicines, check to see if an insurance provider covers the brand-specific ones you may prefer.
Health Marketplace Differences Between States
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has standardized many aspects of the health insurance marketplace, but some states still have key differences. Alabama’s marketplace operates through the federal system, allowing residents to purchase plans through HealthCare.gov.
Open enrollment is the time shoppers can purchase or change marketplace plans. Historically, open enrollment in Alabama has occurred from November 1 to December 15. However, dates currently extend an extra month, from November 1 to January 15.
A third health care provider, UnitedHealthcare, will join the marketplace in 2022, giving Alabama residents another option.
MoneyGeek recommends reviewing your options each year during open enrollment before renewing your health insurance plan, as new providers, plans and plan changes occur regularly. Even if you’re satisfied with your coverage, something more suitable may become available.
Frequently Asked Questions About Health Insurance in Alabama
Shopping for health insurance in Alabama can be confusing. MoneyGeek answers some of the most frequently asked questions below.
MoneyGeek offers a summary of some of the most favorable health insurance providers in the state based on cost and customer service. However, not every provider will be available in every county or municipality. Visit your state’s marketplace to discover which health insurance providers are available to you.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, lender or other entity.
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