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 (BCBS) 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.*

Humana vs. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
Company UHC logo BCBS logo

Medicare plans are offered in many parts of the country

Plans include large networks of providers, doctors and pharmacies

Some Medicare plans are offered in partnership with AARP

Wide variety of plans available in many areas of the U.S.

Large networks of participating health care providers


Medicare plan star ratings are slightly lower than Blue Cross Blue Shield

Many different affiliate companies can make it slightly more confusing to shop for a plan where you live

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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.

29% of all Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are members of a UnitedHealthcare Medicare plan offered in partnership with AARP.1 This accounts 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 or a BCBS affiliate.1

Have Medicare questions?

Talk to a licensed agent today to find a plan that fits your needs.

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS): 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 2023 plan year, UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans received an average star rating of 3.86 out of 5 Stars.2

The average 2023 star rating for a Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage plans with drug coverage is 3.96.2

UHC vs. BCBS: Part D Prescription Drug 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 offers Medicare Supplement plans

UnitedHealthcare vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield Summary

It’s hard to go wrong with either UnitedHealthcare or BCBS when shopping for Medicare insurance. Depending on where you live, you may have several plan options to choose from, such as the popular UnitedHealthcare Choice Plus.

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.

*Helpadvisor.com is owned and operated by Tranzact, the parent company of TZ Insurance Solutions LLC, which is the owner/operator of Medicareadvantage.com and other websites mentioned on HelpAdvisor and which has a financial relationship with some of the carriers listed on HelpAdvisor. This may influence which products we write about, but HelpAdvisor maintains editorial independence, and our opinions and evaluations are our own.

  1. Freed M, et al. (Aug. 25, 2022). Medicare Advantage in 2023: Enrollment Update and Key Trends. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-advantage-in-2023-enrollment-update-and-key-trends.

  2. HelpAdvisor.com's analysis of the 2023 Star Ratings Data Table from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Star rating data is not weighted by enrollment. https://www.cms.gov/medicare/prescription-drug-coverage/prescriptiondrugcovgenin/performancedata.

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