by Russell Noga | Updated January 21st, 2024
Choosing the right Medicare Advantage plan can be crucial for your health and finances, and two of the biggest providers in this space are Humana and United Healthcare. When pitted against each other, how do they stack up?
This article delves into a thorough comparison of their Medicare Advantage offerings, evaluating everything from plan diversity and prescription coverage to out-of-pocket costs and provider networks. We’ll help you understand the nuances of Humana vs United Healthcare, without pushing you towards one or the other, so you can make an informed choice based on your unique needs.
- Humana offers a variety of Medicare Advantage plans that emphasize customer satisfaction and include fitness program perks like SilverSneakers, whereas United Healthcare offers a wider range of plans that include Special Needs Plans and lower-cost options with benefits like $0 copay for home-delivered Tier 1 and Tier 2 prescriptions.
- Both Humana and United Healthcare boast extensive provider networks, with United Healthcare leading in size. Each provides additional services such as telehealth and wellness programs, though United Healthcare also covers routine dental, vision, hearing, and fitness as part of their comprehensive approach.
- Enrolling in either Humana or United Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans is a streamlined process, with each company providing online resources to facilitate member enrollment and access to health plan information. Customers should consider their own healthcare needs and preferences, as well as the additional benefits and out-of-pocket costs, when selecting a plan.
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Understanding Medicare Advantage: Humana vs United Healthcare
In 2024, Humana emerged as the top Medicare Advantage company, offering a variety of high-quality plans that cater to a diverse range of healthcare needs. From extensive availability to favorable customer satisfaction, Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans stand out in the health insurance market.
On the other side of the coin, United Healthcare, another major health insurance provider, offers a robust selection of nearly 13,500 Medicare Advantage plans. Known for their Health Savings Account options, United Healthcare’s plans often present lower costs in many areas compared to Humana, thereby providing customers with a wider range of affordable healthcare choices. With the United Healthcare offers available, customers can find a Medicare Advantage plan that suits their needs and budget.
Plan Variety Showdown: Humana vs United Healthcare
United Healthcare distinguishes itself through an extensive network of health care providers and competitive pricing, presenting a considerable challenge to Humana when evaluating the diversity of plans available.
Humana, on the other hand, offers various health plans such as Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), which require the use of a contracted network of health care providers. They also offer Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) and Preferred Fee-For-Service (PFFS) plans that offer more flexibility in choosing providers. The choice between these plan types would depend on your individual healthcare needs and preferences.
Analyzing Plan Structures
United Healthcare’s PPO and HMO Medicare Advantage plans differ significantly in terms of health care costs and flexibility in choosing providers. While PPO plans generally offer more flexibility, HMO plans restrict coverage to care from doctors who are employed by or have specific contractual agreements with the HMO.
Conversely, Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans include membership to the popular SilverSneakers fitness program, offering complimentary gym memberships at participating locations. This added perk enhances the appeal of Humana’s plans for health-conscious seniors.
Understanding Prescription Drug Coverage
Prescription drug coverage is a critical component of any Medicare Advantage plan. When comparing Humana and United Healthcare, it’s worth noting that approximately 58% of Humana’s plans do not have a drug deductible, making their prescription drug benefits quite favorable. On the other hand, nearly 80% of United Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans, and all of its Special Needs Plans (SNPs), include prescription drug coverage, ensuring a wider range of plan options for those who need regular medications.
United Healthcare even sweetens the deal by offering a $0 copay for all Tier 1 and Tier 2 prescriptions when enrolled for home delivery, providing added convenience and potential savings to their plan members.
In-Depth Comparison of Health Benefits
In 2024, Humana emerged with a CMS rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars, while United Healthcare achieved a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. These ratings demonstrate a high level of satisfaction with the services and coverage offered by both companies, indicating that they are both viable choices for anyone seeking a comprehensive Medicare Advantage plan.
United Healthcare goes a step further with its Special Needs Plans (SNPs), providing distinct benefits such as a monthly allowance for nutritious foods, over-the-counter products, and even assistance with utility bills. This unique approach caters to those with specific requirements, further enhancing the value of their plans.
Dental and Vision Extras
United Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans offer fundamental dental benefits, including regular cleanings and exams. For more extensive requirements, premium dental coverage options are available, which cover dentures, crowns, and implants up to $1,500 annually.
Similarly, United Healthcare’s plans generally include an annual routine eye exam at no extra charge, with most plans offering an allocation for eyeglasses or contacts varying from $100 to $400. This comprehensive approach to vision care further enhances the overall value of their plans.
Wellness Perks and Gym Memberships
Humana’s commitment to promoting physical activity among seniors is reflected in their inclusion of the SilverSneakers fitness program in their Medicare Advantage plans. This program offers free gym memberships at participating locations, providing an additional incentive for seniors to stay active and healthy.
United Healthcare also places a significant emphasis on wellness, offering their own fitness program, Renew Active, to their Medicare Advantage plan members. This program includes a free membership at participating fitness locations, ensuring that seniors have ample opportunities to maintain an active lifestyle.
Cost Analysis: Premiums and Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Both premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are vital considerations when assessing costs. Notably, around half of United Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans offer a zero-premium option, though this does not eliminate the requirement to pay the monthly Part B premium.
In contrast, the typical premium amount for Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans in 2023 was $18 per month. While some of Humana’s plans may offer $0 monthly premiums, it’s important to note that these plans are not entirely free and may come with other costs.
Significant variations can occur in premiums across different Medicare Advantage plans. For example, in 2023, Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans’ typical premium was $18 per month, while approximately 6.5 million members of United Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans paid no premiums.
The cost of premiums can depend on various factors, including:
- Health status
- Health care usage
- Supplemental coverage
Therefore, it’s important to closely examine the details of each plan to understand all the associated costs.
Out-of-Pocket Cost Considerations
Out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Advantage plans encompass the expenses that the member must pay, such as deductibles and copayments. Humana defines these costs to include deductibles and copayments that contribute towards the out-of-pocket maximum, with typical expenses for Humana Medicare Advantage plans in 2024 varying from $500 to $8,850.
In contrast, United Healthcare defines out-of-pocket costs as the annual limit on payments, including deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. The maximum limit can reach up to $4,900, in addition to extra copays for specific services.
Overall, the out-of-pocket costs for Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans are generally higher compared to those of United Healthcare’s.
Customer Satisfaction and Service Quality
Humana and United Healthcare both excel in customer satisfaction, a key factor in evaluating any service, including Medicare Advantage plans. Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans have achieved an average overall star rating of 4.3 from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, surpassing all other major carriers. Additionally, they attained the highest score in Florida in the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Medicare Advantage Satisfaction Study.
In comparison, United Healthcare’s customer satisfaction rating stands at 3.87 stars out of 5, which, although lower than Humana’s, is still quite commendable. This reflects positive member experiences and underscores United Healthcare’s commitment to providing high-quality service.
Member Experiences and Testimonials
Insights into the practical effectiveness of Medicare Advantage plans can be gleaned from member experiences and testimonials. Humana’s plan members have expressed satisfaction with the plans’ costs, key features, and benefits, with the majority of their plans receiving 4 stars or higher.
On the other hand, United Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans also receive favorable ratings from members, reflecting positive experiences. Although these testimonials are generally positive, some members have raised concerns about Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans, citing challenges with coverage and difficulties in obtaining prescription refills.
Provider Network Accessibility: Humana vs United Healthcare
The convenience and range of healthcare options available to plan members can be significantly influenced by the accessibility and size of provider networks. Humana’s provider network for Medicare Advantage plans boasts over 3.5 million members, providing a wide variety of healthcare options. However, United Healthcare takes the lead with an extensive network of more than 1.3 million physicians and care providers, offering a wider range of options for its plan members.
Moreover, the size of the provider network can impact the accessibility of medical professionals for plan members. A larger network provides a wider range of options and facilitates easier access to preferred doctors and medical professionals, which is crucial for patients seeking in-network coverage without having to travel significant distances.
Additional Services and Features
Apart from their primary offerings, Humana and United Healthcare extend a variety of additional services and features. Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans provide resources for nutrition and weight loss, along with telehealth services, adding extra value and convenience to their plans.
United Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans, on the other hand, include Original Medicare Part A and Part B, along with routine vision, hearing, dental, and fitness services, as well as telehealth services. This comprehensive approach ensures that United Healthcare’s plans offer a full suite of healthcare services, catering to a wide range of healthcare needs.
Making the Right Choice for Your Health Needs
Your specific healthcare needs and preferences should be taken into account when choosing a Medicare Advantage plan. Both Humana and United Healthcare provide online member portals that enable individuals to assess benefits, monitor claims, and access tailored information regarding their health insurance offerings, thereby facilitating informed decision-making.
Whether you’re managing chronic diseases or have pre-existing conditions, consider plans that offer chronic care management services, such as a comprehensive care plan, personalized assistance from a healthcare professional, and 24/7 emergency access. It’s important to remember that your selection of a Medicare Advantage plan will not influence the management of pre-existing conditions or impact your coverage with your primary care doctor.
Navigating Plan Enrollment and Changes
While enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan may seem daunting, Humana and United Healthcare have streamlined the process significantly. To enroll in a Humana Medicare Advantage plan, simply follow these steps:
- Select the plan of interest.
- Complete a form with your personal information.
- Confirm your eligibility.
- Choose your Medicare coverage.
- Apply for Medicare online.
To enroll in a United Healthcare Medicare Advantage plan, you must first enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B. After completing the Medicare enrollment, you can join a United Healthcare Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Enrollment Period from October 15 to December 7.
In conclusion, both Humana and United Healthcare offer a wide range of Medicare Advantage plans with varying benefits and costs, making them suitable for a diverse range of healthcare needs. While Humana stands out for its high-quality plans and customer satisfaction, United Healthcare provides extensive provider networks and competitive pricing. Therefore, the ultimate choice depends on your individual healthcare needs, preferences, and budget. Remember, the best plan for you is one that provides the coverage you need at a price you can afford.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Did Humana merge with UnitedHealthcare?
No, Humana did not merge with UnitedHealthcare. UnitedHealthcare partnered with Optum in 1977 and purchased the healthcare company in 1977 when it was then named Charter Med.
What is the highest rated Medicare Advantage plan?
The highest rated Medicare Advantage plan for 2024 is offered by Humana, which ranks No. 1 nationally for its plan offerings as per U.S. News. Humana is also rated the best for member experience and low premium plans.
What are the key differences between Humana and United Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans?
In conclusion, Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans are known for high quality and availability, with multiple $0-per-month options, while United Healthcare offers a wide range of plans with robust Health Savings Account options and often lower costs.
How do the prescription drug coverages of Humana and United Healthcare compare?
In conclusion, United Healthcare has a higher percentage of plans with prescription drug coverage compared to Humana. Both companies have a variety of plan options to consider when comparing prescription drug coverages.
Speak to the Professionals about Medigap Plans and Original Medicare Deductibles
If you find understanding the benefits involved with Original Medicare and Medigap Plans challenging, you’re not alone. Whether it’s a Medigap plan, or you want to know more about Humana or United Healthcare, we can help. Call our team at 1-888-891-0229 for a free consultation or complete the contact form on this site, and an expert will call you back at a convenient time.
We have decades of experience advising our clients on the complexities of Medicare and Medigap plans, the benefits, cost and deductibles. We’ll ensure you get the best rate in your state and advice you can trust.
Russell Noga is the CEO and Medicare editor of Medisupps.com. His 15 years of experience in the Medicare insurance market includes being a licensed Medicare insurance broker in all 50 states. He is frequently featured as a featured as a keynote Medicare event speaker, has authored hundreds of Medicare content pages, and hosts the very popular Medisupps.com Medicare Youtube channel. His expertise includes Medicare, Medigap insurance, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Part D.