UnitedHealthcare vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield

In this article...
  • UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield are two of the largest Medicare insurance providers in the nation. This review compares UnitedHealthcare vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare plans so that you can learn more about the plan benefits and costs that may be available from each company.

UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield are among the industry leaders for Medicare insurance plans. But which insurance company comes out on top?

Read our review of UnitedHealthcare vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield to see which company prevails and which one might be best for your needs. 

UnitedHealthcare: Medicare Plans in More States

Medicare beneficiaries can only enroll in Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans or Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans that are sold in the area where they live.

While both UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield offer Medicare plans in many areas of the country, UnitedHealthcare has a broader reach in terms of plan availability.

The chart below shows the number of states where you may be able to find at least one of the three types of private Medicare insurance policies sold by each respective company (current as of 2022). 

UnitedHealthcare Type of Medicare Plans Blue Cross Blue Shield
Available in 49 states Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) Available in 44 states
Available in 50 states Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans Available in 41 states
Available in 50 states  Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) Available in 50 states

As you can see, UnitedHealthcare has a slightly larger service area than Blue Cross Blue Shield.

UnitedHealthcare’s geographic range is also reflected in the company’s share of the Medicare market. 28% of all Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are members of a UnitedHealthcare Medicare plan offered in partnership with AARP. Over 19% of all Medicare Part D beneficiaries are part of a UHC Medicare drug plan, which are also offered in partnership with AARP.

These high percentages account for more Medicare plan members than any other insurance provider in America. 

14% of Medicare Advantage enrollees are part of a plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield: Higher Medicare Star Ratings

Quality must always be considered whenever comparing Medicare insurance carriers.

Every year, Medicare evaluates plans using a 5-star rating system. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rates all Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan providers based on various quality metrics including customer satisfaction with their plan. 

For the 2021 plan year, UnitedHealthcare received an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5 Stars. Blue Cross Blue Shield, however, earned an average rating of 3.75 Stars for their Medicare Advantage plans and an average rating of 3.77 Stars for their Medicare Part D plans.1

UHC vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Part D and Medicare Supplement Plans

UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield each offer three different Medicare Part D plans to give beneficiaries a variety of cost and coverage options. 

UnitedHealthcare’s Part D plan lineup includes:

  • MedicareRx Walgreens (lower premium, lower deductible, limited network)
  • MedicareRx Saver Plus (lower premium, higher deductible)
  • MedicareRx Preferred (higher premium, lower deductible)  

Blue Cross Blue Shield also offers three Part D plans with names that vary by state. For instance, they may be MedicareRx Value, Enhanced or Essential plans (Arizona), or MedicareRx Standard, Plus or Enhanced (Georgia). Blue Cross Blue Shield Part D plans also provide various combinations of premium and deductible levels. 

However, while UnitedHealthcare sells all three of its Part D plans in each state, Blue Cross Blue Shield only sells two plans in certain states. 

UnitedHealthcare vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield Summary

It’s hard to go wrong with either UnitedHealthcare or Blue Cross Blue Shield when shopping for Medicare insurance. 

UnitedHealthcare serves more states and owns a larger share of the marketplace than Blue Cross Blue Shield. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers a greater variety of Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans but may only offer two Part D options in certain states. 

Plan quality is about the same between the two companies, with both UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield rating slightly above average. 

If you have the choice of either UnitedHealthcare or Blue Cross Blue Shield, compare the benefits and cost of each plan and decide what’s best for your needs and budget, as prices and availability can vary according to location. 

  1. Based on HelpAdvisor's analysis of 2021 MA and PDP Landscape Source Files from CMS.gov. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovGenIn.

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