Kaiser Permanente vs. Aetna

In this article...
  • In this review, we compare Kaiser Permanente vs. Aetna to see which company might have the best Medicare plans for your needs. Learn more about each insurance company, the types of Medicare plans they offer and everything else you need to know to pick the right plan for you.

Aetna is a much larger insurance company than Kaiser Permanente, but bigger doesn’t always mean better. And more importantly, just because a particular company is large and well-known doesn’t guarantee that its coverage is best for your individual needs.

Below is our review of Aetna vs. Kaiser Permanente Medicare plans in terms of plan availability, selection, quality and cost so you can get a better idea about which insurance company may be right for you. 

Aetna: Greater Medicare Plan Availability 

Aetna Medicare plans are available almost anywhere. The company sells Medicare Part D prescription drug plans in all 50 states, Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans in 49 states and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans in 43 states. 

Kaiser does not sell standalone Part D plans or Medigap plans. And the company only sells Medicare Advantage plans in just eight states. 

Unless you live in one of the eight states serviced by Kaiser Permanente (CA, CO, GA, HI, MD, OR, VA and WA), then the choice between Aetna or Kaiser is clear. 

Kaiser: Higher Medicare Star Ratings

Every year, Medicare evaluates plans using a 5-star rating system. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) uses the Star Ratings to give beneficiaries with an idea of each insurance company’s Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan quality. The ratings are issued every year and use a scale of one to five stars, with five being the best attainable score. 

Kaiser Medicare Advantage plans earned a perfect overall Five-Star Rating in seven of the eight states where it's plans are sold in 2021, and a 4.5-Star Rating in Washington state. 

For 2021, Aetna earned an overall rating of 4 Stars for its Medicare Advantage plans and 3.5 Stars for its Part D plans. Three stars is considered average and four stars is above average. 

Kaiser vs. Aetna: Medicare Plan Selection

Both Aetna and Kaiser Permanente have Medicare Advantage plan selections that include HMO, PPO and POS (Point-of-Service) options.

But only Aetna offers Special Needs Plans for dual-eligible beneficiaries (those who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid). 

If what you are looking for is an HMO, PPO or POS plan, either company may suffice. But if you are a dual-eligible beneficiary interested in a Special Needs Plan, only Aetna will do. 

Aetna’s Medicare Part D plan lineup includes a choice of three plans with varying combinations of premiums and deductibles to provide beneficiaries of every budget an option. 

Aetna’s Medigap plan selection may vary by location, but in most areas, the company sells Medigap Plans A, B, C, D, F, G and N. You can compare Medicare Supplement plans online for free in order to find out which plans are available where you live, what they cost and what they cover.

Kaiser vs. Aetna: Medicare Plan Costs

The cost of Medicare Advantage plans can vary between carriers. Aetna and Kaiser Permanente both offer $0 premium Medicare HMO plans in many of the areas where they both offer plans.

Dental, vision and hearing benefits are often included in Aetna’s $0 premium plans, however. If you opt for a Medicare Advantage plan from Kaiser, you may have to pay an added premium each month for those benefits. 

Kaiser vs. Aetna: In Conclusion

Aetna sells more Medicare plans in more places and may be able to offer you a better rate, depending on where you live and the plans available in your area. Kaiser’s plans are higher performing in terms of quality, though. 

Choosing a Medicare carrier is all about finding the best coverage for your specific needs with costs that fit your budget and participating doctors and pharmacies that are convenient to you. So just because one particular carrier may look better on paper doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be the best one for you. 

Contact a licensed insurance agent to discuss the Aetna and Kaiser Permanente Medicare options available near you, or get started comparing plans online for free.  

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