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Aetna Vs Blue Cross: Which is Better?

Written By: Charlotte Senger
Reviewed By: William Rivers
Published: February 6, 2024
Last updated: February 26, 2024
KEY TAKEAWAYS

Aetna and Blue Cross are both reputable health insurance providers with a variety of plan options, so the choice between them should be based on individual needs and preferences.

Aetna offers a range of plan types, including HMO, PPO, EPO, POS, HDHPs with HSAs, and Medicare Advantage, while also providing Medicaid services in some states.[1]

Blue Cross Blue Shield operates through 36 independent companies, offering similar plan types such as HMOs, PPOs, EPOs, POS, HDHPs with HSAs, and Medicare Advantage, along with Medicaid and CHIP plans in many states.[2]

Both Aetna and Blue Cross focus on preventive care, emergency services, maternity and newborn care, prescription drug coverage, mental health services, and telehealth options, often supplemented with dental and vision coverage and wellness programs.

When deciding between Aetna and Blue Cross, factors to consider include plan variety, network accessibility, customer service, and cost, ensuring you choose the provider that best aligns with your healthcare needs and financial situation.

Choosing the right health insurance provider is a critical decision that can significantly impact your access to quality healthcare and financial well-being. When comparing Aetna vs Blue Cross, two giants in the health insurance industry, it's essential to delve into what each has to offer in terms of coverage options, network size, customer service, and overall value. Both companies bring a wealth of experience, a broad range of plans, and a commitment to health and wellness, but they also have their unique strengths and areas of specialization. 

In this article, we will explore the key differences and similarities between Aetna and Blue Cross to help you determine which insurer might be the better choice for your healthcare needs. Whether you're looking for individual coverage, family plans, or employer-provided options, understanding the nuances of what Aetna and Blue Cross provide will empower you to make an informed decision.

Aetna Vs Blue Cross: Types of Plans Offered

When comparing the types of plans offered by Aetna and Blue Cross, it's important to recognize that both companies are well-established in the health insurance industry and provide a wide array of options to cater to diverse healthcare needs. Here's a breakdown of the types of plans you can expect from each insurer:

Aetna: Types of Plans Offered

  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plans: These plans require members to select a primary care physician (PCP) and obtain referrals to see specialists within Aetna's network of providers. HMO plans often focus on preventive care and wellness.[1]

  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plans: PPO plans offer more flexibility, allowing members to see providers in and out of Aetna's network without a referral. Out-of-network care is more expensive, but these plans provide greater choice.

  • Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) Plans: EPO plans combine elements of HMO and PPO plans, offering a network of providers with no coverage for out-of-network care, but typically do not require referrals to see specialists.

  • Point of Service (POS) Plans: These plans are a hybrid of HMO and PPO plans. You may need a referral to see a specialist, but you have the flexibility to use out-of-network providers at a higher cost.

  • High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): Designed for individuals willing to pay a higher deductible for lower monthly premiums, these plans are compatible with HSAs, allowing members to save money tax-free for medical expenses.

  • Medicare Advantage Plans: For those eligible for Medicare, Aetna offers plans that include all the benefits of Medicare Parts A and B, often with additional coverage like prescription drugs, vision, dental, and wellness programs.

  • Medicaid Services: In some states, Aetna provides Medicaid services to low-income individuals and families, offering coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, maternity care, and more.

Blue Cross: Types of Plans Offered

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) operates through 36 independent and locally operated companies, so the types of plans and specific offerings can vary by region. However, the following types are generally available across the BCBS network:

  • HMO Plans: Similar to Aetna, BCBS offers HMO plans that emphasize preventive healthcare, requiring members to choose a PCP and get referrals for specialist care within the network.

  • PPO Plans: These plans provide the flexibility to see any doctor or specialist without a referral, with better benefits for using providers within the BCBS network.

  • EPO Plans: Offering a middle ground, EPO plans allow members to use providers within the BCBS network without referrals but do not cover out-of-network care except in emergencies.

  • POS Plans: Combining features of HMOs and PPOs, these plans offer a broad network and the option to see out-of-network providers at a higher cost, sometimes requiring referrals for specialists.

  • HDHPs with HSAs: BCBS also offers high deductible plans that are eligible for pairing with HSAs, benefiting those who prefer lower premiums and are willing to manage higher out-of-pocket costs.

  • Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans: BCBS provides comprehensive Medicare Advantage plans, often with additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare, along with standalone prescription drug plans.

  • Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Plans: BCBS companies offer Medicaid and CHIP plans in many states, providing essential coverage for eligible individuals and families.

Aetna Vs Blue Cross: Coverage and Benefits

Fast Facts

Blue Cross generally has one of the largest healthcare provider networks in the U.S., with a deep presence in local communities.

Aetna: Coverage and Benefits

Aetna emphasizes preventive care, emergency services, maternity and newborn care, and prescription drug coverage. They also offer mental health services, telehealth options, and sometimes dental and vision coverage. Aetna's wellness programs and digital tools support member well-being.

Blue Cross: Coverage and Benefits

Blue Cross shares a similar focus on preventive care, emergency services, maternity and newborn care, and prescription drug coverage. They also provide mental health services, telehealth options, and occasionally dental and vision coverage. Blue Cross offers wellness programs and digital resources for member health management.[2]

Aetna Vs Blue Cross: Network Size and Accessibility

Fast Facts

Aetna boasts an extensive network spanning urban and rural areas.

Aetna: Network Size and Accessibility

Aetna boasts an extensive network of healthcare providers, including physicians, specialists, and hospitals across the United States. This vast network ensures that Aetna members have access to a wide range of healthcare services. Aetna's network spans urban and rural areas, providing accessibility to medical care in various regions.

Blue Cross: Network Size and Accessibility

Blue Cross, operating through 36 independent and locally operated companies, offers one of the largest healthcare provider networks in the U.S. BCBS companies have a deep presence in local communities, ensuring members have access to a broad array of healthcare providers nationwide. This extensive network contributes to the accessibility and availability of healthcare services for BCBS members.

Aetna Vs Blue Cross: Customer Service and Support

Aetna: Customer Service and Support

Aetna is recognized for its customer service, offering various channels for support, including online portals, mobile apps, and 24/7 customer helplines. Aetna's customer support is designed to assist members with inquiries, claims, and navigating their health insurance benefits. Additionally, Aetna's focus on digital health provides members with tools for managing their health and insurance benefits online, enhancing the overall customer experience.

Blue Cross: Customer Service and Support

Blue Cross companies are known for their customer-focused approach, providing personalized services and support through local agents, online resources, and customer service centers. BCBS members benefit from the local presence and community-based support of their respective BCBS company. The emphasis on personal assistance ensures that members can access help when needed and receive guidance on their health insurance inquiries.

Aetna Vs Blue Cross: Costs and Affordability

Aetna: Network Size and Accessibility

Aetna boasts an extensive network of healthcare providers, including physicians, specialists, and hospitals across the United States. This vast network ensures that Aetna members have access to a wide range of healthcare services. Aetna's network spans urban and rural areas, providing accessibility to medical care in various regions.

Blue Cross: Network Size and Accessibility

Blue Cross, operating through 36 independent and locally operated companies, offers one of the largest healthcare provider networks in the U.S. BCBS companies have a deep presence in local communities, ensuring members have access to a broad array of healthcare providers nationwide. This extensive network contributes to the accessibility and availability of healthcare services for BCBS members.

Aetna Vs Blue Cross: Customer Service and Support

Aetna: Customer Service and Support

Aetna is recognized for its customer service, offering various channels for support, including online portals, mobile apps, and 24/7 customer helplines. Aetna's customer support is designed to assist members with inquiries, claims, and navigating their health insurance benefits. Additionally, Aetna's focus on digital health provides members with tools for managing their health and insurance benefits online, enhancing the overall customer experience.

Blue Cross: Customer Service and Support

Blue Cross companies are known for their customer-focused approach, providing personalized services and support through local agents, online resources, and customer service centers. BCBS members benefit from the local presence and community-based support of their respective BCBS company. The emphasis on personal assistance ensures that members can access help when needed and receive guidance on their health insurance inquiries.

Aetna vs Blue Cross - Making Your Decision

In the Aetna vs Blue Cross comparison, both companies offer a wide range of healthcare plans with a focus on preventive care, emergency services, and prescription drug coverage. They also provide mental health services, telehealth options, and, in some cases, dental and vision coverage, supported by wellness programs and digital tools. Your decision between Aetna and Blue Cross should consider factors like plan variety, network size, accessibility, customer service, and costs.

Making an informed decision will ensure you access quality healthcare while safeguarding your finances.

Read our next guide to find out if Medicaid pays for dementia care. Our article covers essential insights into the support available for those in need.

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Charlotte Senger is a senior discount expert who handles all financial concerns and ensures that seniors are able to save money. She got her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Texas.
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