Wellcare vs. Kaiser Permanente

In this article...
  • Wellcare and Kaiser Permanente each offer a range of insurance plans, including types of Medicare plans. Read our review of Wellcare vs. Kaiser Medicare plans to see which health insurance carrier comes out on top and which one may be right for you.

Wellcare and Kaiser Permanente are smaller insurance companies when compared to some of the much larger corporations that offer insurance plans in the United States. Each company, however, remains popular and competitive, especially when it comes to Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan options.

You can use this Medicare plan review to see how Wellcare and Kaiser compare. You can also compare Medicare plans online to determine which carrier might offer the best Medicare Advantage insurance plan for your needs.

Wellcare logo

Wellcare has over 12,00 employees, $20 billion in revenue and over five million customers served

Kaiser logo

6% of all Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries are members of a Kaiser Permanente Medicare plan. Many Medicare customers appreciate their coverage from Kaiser Permanente. In fact, Kaiser Permanente is rated 4.3 stars for quality by the NCQA and a perfect five stars by Healthcare.gov.

Wellcare vs. Kaiser Permanente
  Pros Cons

Mid-size company feel with a small company feel.

Recently merged with Centene, a multinational health care company.

Only offers two types of Medicare insurance.

Plan quality ratings could be better.

Kaiser Permanente

High quality Medicare plans.

Simple and streamlined business model that offers health plans and health care facilities.

Only serves a limited part of the country.

Only offers one type of Medicare insurance.

Kaiser Permanente vs. Wellcare: Types of Insurance Plans Offered

Wellcare and Kaiser each only sell Medicare insurance and do not offer group health insurance plans or individual plans outside of their Medicare plan offerings.

Wellcare offers Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans.

Kaiser Permanente only offers Medicare Advantage plans.

Neither company currently offers any Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans.

Areas Served

Wellcare sells Medicare Advantage plans in 36 states and Medicare Part D plans in all 50 states.

Kaiser Medicare Advantage plans are offered in just eight states (CA, CO, GA, HI, MD, OR, VA and WA) and the District of Columbia.

Provider Access

Wellcare makes it easy to search providers on its website, which means you can search to see if your doctor accepts Wellcare Medicare plans. There are more than 16,000 doctors who accept Wellcare insurance plans, according to Doctor.com.

The Kaiser business model is unique in that its health insurance plans are tied to its medical facilities. In order to use Kaiser insurance, you must visit a Kaiser hospital or medical facility. The company reports there are 39 such hospitals and 694 medical office buildings across the states it serves.

Financial Ratings

Wellcare maintains strong financial ratings. The company earned a BBB- rating from Fitch Ratings and BB rating from Standard and Poor’s. The company also has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Kaiser Permanente holds an AA- rating from Fitch Ratings, an A+ from Standard and Poor’s and an A+ from the Better Business Bureau.

Medicare Star Ratings

Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system. Stars are used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to indicate various measures of plan quality, with five stars being the highest score.

Wellcare earned an overall Medicare Star rating of just 2.88 stars out of 5 in 2023 when weighted by enrollment.

Kaiser Permanente Medicare plans on the other hand shine when it comes to quality, with a perfect five-star rating in 2023 for six of the eight states where plans are sold.

Customer Experience

Wellcare members can locate health care providers online and log into their account to perform additional tasks such as checking Medicare claims, viewing past bills and more. Members can also reach Wellcare customer support via phone or email. Wellcare offers two mobile apps for members, although neither have particularly high ratings online.

Kaiser also makes it easy to find its facility locations online, and they offer a member portal for more personalized benefit management. Customer support is available via phone, online chat and email. Kaiser also has a mobile app that allows members to schedule appointments, refill prescriptions and more. The app is rated 4.1 stars out of 5 in both the Apple app store and the Android app store.  

Wellcare vs. Kaiser Permanente: The Verdict

If you like a smaller company feel, Wellcare and Kaiser Permanente may be good options for you. Wellcare has a larger footprint in terms of markets served and offers two different types of Medicare plans, compared to Kaiser, which only offers one type of Medicare plan.

The Kaiser Permanente niche presence helps them focus on quality, which shines through in its favorable plan ratings.

Speak to a licensed insurance agent for help determining which of these Medicare insurance companies may be best for addressing your individual health care needs as well as your budget.

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