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Our Health Insurance Ratings Methodology

How we rate health insurance 

We evaluated 129 health insurance companies by weighing key factors of top health insurance plans and scoring the following metrics.


We analyzed more than 864 Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace rates to determine the average cost of health insurance plans.

>> Why this is important: Health insurance cost is one key factor when deciding on a health plan. You’ll want to buy coverage that fits your budget.

Consumer complaints to state insurance departments

Health insurance companies with the lowest levels of complaints received the highest score. We collected complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which shows the volume of health insurance consumer complaints against each company.

>> Why this is important: We used complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The NAIC collects complaints to state insurance departments. Before buying a health insurance plan, it’s a good idea to understand the rate of consumer complaints against an insurer. 

National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) rating

Health insurance companies with the highest quality ratings received the highest score. We collected data from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent, nonprofit organization that accredits health plans and produces ratings based on specific metrics.

>> Why this is important: NCQA collects information on specific metrics, including patient experience, prevention, treatment, overall rating of the health plan and rating of care. This information can provide a glimpse at a health plan’s quality.

Health plans available 

Health insurance companies with the greatest variety of health insurance plans (HMO, EPO, PPO) received the highest score.

>> Why this is important: Health plan benefit design plays a key role in how much health insurance costs and the flexibility and barriers you may experience receiving care. Companies that offer more types of health plans provide more options, which gives you a better chance of finding a plan benefit design that’s right for you.

Metal tier offerings

The Affordable Care Act marketplace has four metal tier options. Health insurance companies with the most options of metal tier plans received the highest score.

>> Why this is important: Health plan costs, including premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, affect a plan’s metal tier. The Affordable Care Act marketplace bases metal tiers on those costs. An insurer that offers multiple metal tiers means you have more flexibility to decide whether you’d rather pay lower premiums or lower out-of-pocket costs.

Short-term health insurance rates

Short-term health insurance plans were compared using a $5,000 deductible. The rate profile was a female 35-year-old nonsmoker who lives in Dallas. Cost was analyzed based on these factors:

  • Monthly premium cost.
  • Coinsurance percentage.
  • Maximum annual out-of-pocket amount.
  • Total coverage amount.

>> Why this is important: The monthly premium amount should not be your only cost consideration when shopping for short-term health insurance. You should also consider the amount you’d need to pay out of pocket when using this insurance, and how much the insurance company will cover. A plan with a lower rate may not be the best choice if it doesn’t provide adequate coverage for your needs. 

Vision and dental

Short-term health insurance companies that also sell individual vision and dental coverage for an additional premium received the maximum amount of points.

>> Why this is important: If you’re planning to buy short-term health insurance, you may want to add coverage for vision and dental for a more comprehensive plan. 

Our star ratings explained

Our best health insurance star ratings are determined by weights assigned to the key factors above. Each health insurance company is scored and its total score out of 100 determines its star rating. Top scores earn 5 stars. 


Best health insurance methodology

To find the best health insurance companies, we analyzed data points about coverage, quality and complaints. 

Best health insurance ranking factors

  • Cost: 30 points.
  • Consumer complaints: 25 points. 
  • NCQA quality rating: 25 points.
  • Variety of health insurance plans: 10 points.
  • Metal tier offerings: 10 points. 

See the results of our analysis in our rating of the best health insurance.

Best short-term health insurance methodology

To determine the best short-term health insurance companies, we analyzed cost, coverage and customer complaints to state insurance departments. 

Best short-term health insurance ranking factors

  • Customer complaints: 30 points. 
  • Monthly premium cost: 15 points.
  • Coinsurance percentage: 15 points.
  • Maximum annual out-of-pocket amount: 15 points.
  • Total coverage amount: 15 points. 
  • Vision and dental: 10 points.

See the results of our analysis in our rating of the best short-term health insurance.

How we collect data

We collect health insurance data from the Affordable Care (ACA) marketplace at healthcare.gov and short-term health insurance data from insurer websites. 

Our data undergoes three levels of fact-checking to ensure accuracy. We get new data throughout the year to update our health insurance articles and our ratings are updated annually. 

USA TODAY Blueprint’s editorial standards

Our goal as insurance editors is to provide an unbiased analysis of insurance products on the market and break down the pros and cons of each. 

For insurance ratings, we collect thousands of data points to evaluate by assigning weights to the most important factors. These weights determine each product’s score out of 100, which translates to a star rating. Top-scoring insurance products get 5 stars. 

Our ratings are designed to let rigorous methodology determine the winners so all star ratings are data-based. Advertisers never influence our editorial content. 

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