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Best Medicare Advantage Plans in California

If you’re considering switching your plan, you may wonder about your options. Searching for a plan with additional coverage for services like hearing, dental, vision, or more comprehensive prescription drug coverage can be a challenge. In this article, we evaluated California’s Medicare Advantage plans and reviewed our top three choices. Read on to explore the best options for your healthcare needs.

Best Medicare Advantage plans in California in 2024: shortlist

  1. United Healthcare - best for the widest network
  2. Aetna - best for additional benefits
  3. Blue Shield of California -best for high quality ratings

1. United Healthcare — best for the widest network

Provider overview
On CoverRight Website

United Healthcare has been around since 1977 and is loved by members and doctors for its vast network of healthcare facilities and providers. It is a significant issuer of health coverage that offers health plans in 2,709 counties across America’s 50 states in 2024. The number of counties is set to grow to 2,804 in 2024. In addition to its wide network, United Healthcare also has a 3.8 out of 5 CMS rating and low-cost premiums.

2. Aetna — best for additional benefits

Provider overview
On CoverRight Website

Aetna is another highly rated Medicare Advantage plan with a CMS rating of 4.06 out of 5. Aside from the typical coverage for hospital and outpatient services, Aetna also offers hearing, vision, and dental services. Beneficiaries also have a fitness membership provided at no additional cost.

3. Blue Cross Blue Shield — best for high quality ratings

Provider overview
On CoverRight Website

With a 4 out of 5 NCQA rating, indicating its exceptional performance and high quality in providing beneficiaries the coverage and access to the services they need. It has one of California’s largest networks, which may allow you to remain under the care of your favorite providers even as you switch plans. With Blue Shield of California, you can access comprehensive hearing, vision, and dental coverage. They also offer generous prescription coverage, which includes many of the preferred generic brands

Comparing the top 3 Medicare Advantage plans in California

We evaluated California’s many Medicare Advantage plans against costs, availability, quality ratings by CMS, and customer satisfaction ratings by the NCQA and JD Powers. The chart below provides a picture of how the top three plans compare. Please remember that your coverage and plan costs depend on your zip code.

Avg. monthly premiumAvg. in-network out-of-pocket maxAvg. annual deductibleNo. contracts availableNo. counties servicedAvg. CMS ratingNCQA (based on quality and member experience)JD Powers (Overall Customer Satisfaction Ranking 2023)
United Healthcare$13$5,350062383.85Not accredited5th
Aetna$0$3,280054544.064.05N/A
Blue Shield of California$24.50$5,262036113.864.03rd

How we ranked the best California Medicare Advantage plans?

As we analyzed all the available Medicare Advantage plans in California, we took into consideration essential factors such as cost, availability, quality, and customer ratings available on public sites of the CMS, NCQA, and JD Powers.

  • Cost. Using the data provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and health plan websites, we evaluated the costs of each plan. We analyzed the average costs of monthly premiums, out-of-pocket maximums, and annual deductibles.
  • Availability. We also analyzed the availability of coverage through various counties and across the country by looking at the number of plans available in the state and how many counties they serve.
  • Quality ratings. The CMS reviews all health insurance companies and ranks the quality of their plans in terms of coverage, availability, and service. We also accessed the NCQA report cards for each health plan, which assess the members’ past experiences with or had the respective plan.
  • Customer satisfaction. The voices of those with the top three Medicare Advantage plans were considered significantly. We used the JD Powers, a customer satisfaction index ranking from 2023, for each plan they assessed based on provider network, health plan costs, customer service, billing, and payments.

Medicare Advantage in California: things to know

As you go about selecting a new Medicare Advantage plan for the following year, there are some key pieces to keep in mind, such as the following:

  • There are over 450 Medicare Advantage plans in the state of California
  • There is a $0 premium MA plan available with most health insurance companies
  • The average monthly premium in California for a Medicare Advantage plan is $16.64

What providers offer Medicare Advantage plans in California

Below is a complete list of all the health insurance providers of Medicare Advantage plans in California:

  • Aetna Medicare
  • Alignment Health Plan
  • Aspire Health
  • Astiva Health
  • Blue Shield of California
  • Brand New Day
  • CCA Health California
  • Molina Healthcare of California
  • Central Health Medicare Plan
  • Chinese Community Health Plan
  • Clever Care Health Plan
  • Humana
  • Imperial Health Plan of California
  • Kaiser Permenante
  • Providence Medicare Advantage Plans
  • Scan Health Plan
  • Sharp Health Plan
  • United Healthcare
  • Wellcare
  • Western Health Advantage
  • Anthem Blue Cross

Unfortunately, there are no 5-star Medicare Advantage plans in California. The highest-ranking health plan in California for Medicare Advantage is Sharp Health Plan, which is limited to San Diego County.

The runners-up for health plans receiving 4 out of 5 stars by CMS include the following:

  • Aetna Medicare
  • Alignment Health Plan
  • Humana
  • Kaiser Permanente

Medicare Advantage plans in California: comparing different counties

As with many health plans, Medicare Advantage plans are based on the county and zip code. In California, there are 58 counties in which 6.6 million Californians reside. Of these 6.6 million, 5 million are Medicare beneficiaries.

We selected random counties in California’s rural, suburban, and urban areas to analyze the types of Medicare Advantage plans available in counties including Sacramento, Sonoma, San Diego, and Shasta.

No. of MA providersAvg. monthly premiumMost popular health insurance providers in the areaAvg. annual medical deductible
Sacramento County20$28.99Kaiser, Blue Shield of California, Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross$0
Sonoma County12$23.60Kaiser, Blue Shield of California, Health Net$122
San Diego County37$10.59Kaiser, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California$70
Shasta County4$31.13United Healthcare, Anthem Blue Cross, Imperial Traditional$277

What are the eligibility requirements for a Medicare Advantage plan in California?

To enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan in California, one must meet the following criteria:

  • Be qualified and enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B
  • Be at least 65 years of age or have a qualifying disability
  • You must live in the plan's service area
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident

Choosing the best Medicare Advantage plan in California

Regardless of your county, you will have more than one plan option for your healthcare needs under the Medicare Advantage program. As you set off to make the best decision for yourself, consider these factors as a guide:

  • Does the plan’s network include your doctors and specialists?
  • What costs are you looking at as far as the monthly premiums, copays, drug costs, deductibles, and max out-of-pocket costs?
  • Will your prescriptions be covered?
  • How frequently do you plan to use your healthcare benefits?
  • How often will you be traveling and where?

With the generous selection of plans in California, there is much to choose from. But, when you narrow it down to our top three choices or factor in the above considerations, finding the perfect MA plan for 2024 will be more straightforward.


Discover MA plans in other states

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