Aetna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield

In this article...
  • In this review, we explore Aetna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare plans. Learn more about the types of plans each company offers, what they cover and how you can compare Medicare plans available where you live.

Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield are two of the biggest names in the private Medicare insurance industry. Beneficiaries nearly all over the U.S. may be able to choose a plan from one of these two carriers, so you may be curious how they compare. 

In this review, we give you an overview of Aetna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield that highlights some of the similarities and differences between these companies so you can decide on the best coverage for your needs.

The first consideration when comparing two insurance companies is whether or not they sell plans in the area in which you live. After all, you can only enroll in a Medicare plan that is sold in your county or zip code.

Aetna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Plan Availability


Our Pick:
Aetna

Aetna sells Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans in 49 states, Aetna Medicare Part D drug plans are sold in all 50 states, and Aetna Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans can be found in 43 states (all but Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Washington).

Blue Cross Blue Shield sells Medicare Advantage plans in 44 states and offers Medicare Part D plans in 41 states. Blue Cross Blue Shield also sells Medigap plans in all 50 states.

While Blue Cross Blue Shield may have the upper hand when it comes to Medicare Supplement Insurance, Aetna has a larger footprint for both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan availability.

Aetna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Plan Availability


Our Pick:
Blue Cross Blue Shield

Medicare plans come in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of prices and benefits. Shoppers like options, and companies like Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield give beneficiaries plenty of coverage choices.

Blue Cross Blue Shield offers:

  • Medicare Advantage Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, HMO Point-of-Service (HMO-POS) plans, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans and Special Needs Plans (SNPs).

  • Additionally, Blue Cross Blue Shield sells PFFS (Private Fee-For-Service) and Medicare Cost plans, which are slightly less common types of Medicare Advantage plans.

  • Some Blue Cross Blue Shield's Special Needs Plans are available for people who are dual eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, and some of their SNPs are designed for people with chronic conditions like diabetes, end-stage renal disease, heart disease and more.

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield sells several different Medicare Part D drug plans in most ZIP codes, giving consumers a variety of cost and coverage options.

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield also sells nine of the 10 standardized Medigap plans that are available in most states, including Medigap Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L and N. 

Aetna, on the other hand, offers:

  • Medicare HMO plans, PPO plans, HMO-POS plans and Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs).

  • Aetna also offers several different Part D plan options, including several SilverScript Medicare drug plans (the SilverScript Smart Rx plan, SilverScript Choice plan and SilverScript Plus plan).

  • Aetna’s Medicare Supplement Insurance plan selection includes Medigap Plans A, B, C, D, F, G and N. 

While Aetna may offers more Part D plans in most markets, Blue Cross Blue Shield offers two additional Medigap plans and more Medicare Advantage plan types, including more Medicare SNP opportunities for people with chronic conditions. 

Aetna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Medicare Star Ratings


Our Pick:
Both Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna

Every year, Medicare evaluates plans using a 5-star rating system. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rates all Medicare plan providers base on factors such as customer service and plan member health, with five stars being the best rating and three stars being an average rating.

In 2021, Aetna Medicare Advantage plans earned an average Star Rating of 3.74 out of five stars, and its Medicare Part D plans earned an average rating of 3.84 Stars.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage plans earned a 3.75 average rating, and their Medicare Part D plans earned an average 3.77 Star Rating. Because both companies earned above-average Star Ratings from Medicare, our review deems them to be just about equal in overall quality.

Aetna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Plan Costs


Our Pick:
Both Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna

Cost is always an important factor to consider when choosing a Medicare plan.

When comparing the typical costs for Aetna Medicare plans and Blue Cross Medicare plans, we find plan costs to be fairly similar. Please note that the plan premiums, deductibles, copays and other costs for plans available where you live could be very different than these examples.

Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield both offer Medicare Advantage plans in some areas that feature $0 monthly premiums. Each company may also offer some Part D prescription drug plans that feature $0 deductibles for drugs in certain tiers (such as typically low-cost generic drugs).

Aetna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield Summary

When it comes to Aetna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield, both companies are experienced and offer high-quality plan options. Aetna serves a slightly larger number of states, while Blue Cross Blue Shield offers a few more plan options in certain areas of the country. 

Compare the available benefits and costs for Medicare plans in your area so that you can better decide which plan best fits your health care needs and budget. With Aetna or Blue Cross Blue Shield, it’s hard to go wrong. 

Read More
Woman walks in a garden with assistance from caregiver
UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield are two of the largest Medicare insurance providers in ...
Father and son brushing teeth in bathroom
Blue Cross Blue Shield is part of the Anthem family of brands. While the two brands are related, they ...
A couple uses their laptop computer while having coffee
In this review, we compare Blue Cross Blue Shield vs. Kaiser Permanente, including the Medicare plans ...