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Insurance and Healthcare Consultant

Tammy Burns is an experienced health insurance advisor. She is ACA-certified for health insurance and other ancillary, life, and annuity product.

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Signing up for a catastrophic health plan with a high deductible and a limited number of essential benefits can help you reduce your premiums. However, your coverage will be severely limited compared to a plan that conforms to Affordable Care Act standards. Catastrophic plans may be a good choice if you’re a young, healthy adult with minimal health care use. This type of plan can also make sense for basic coverage if you’re between jobs or enrollment periods.

Read on to learn more about available catastrophic insurance plans.

What You Should Know About Catastrophic Health Insurance Plans

  • Premium savings: Catastrophic health plans typically have a lower cost than other health insurance coverage.
  • Limited coverage: Though monthly premiums are lower than some other health insurance types, the coverage is lower too.
  • Specific eligibility: You’ll need to meet age or exemption requirements to get catastrophic coverage.
Health insurance company Financial strength rating Customer satisfaction rating Value rating Coverage rating Overall rating
Aetna: Best for students 5 4.75 4.75 4.75 4.81
Anthem: Best value 5 3.25 4 4.5 4.19
Blue Cross Blue Shield: Best for nationwide coverage 5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.63
Cigna: Best for no-charge services 4.5 4.13 4 4 4.16
Highmark: Best for quality 4.5 4 4 4 4.13
Humana: Best for older adults 4 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.38
Kaiser Permanente: Best for customer service 5 4.5 4.75 4 4.56
Molina Healthcare: Best for coverage options 5 2 3 4 3.5
UnitedHealthcare: Best for financial strength 4 4.75 4.75 4.75 4.56
Wellcare: Best for prescription drug coverage 3.5 4 4.25 4.5 4.06

How We Rate Health Insurance Companies

Financial strength: The financial strength rating is based on the insurance company’s AM Best financial strength rating. AM Best is a credit rating agency specializing in the insurance industry, which rates an insurer’s ability to meet ongoing obligations.

Customer satisfaction: The customer satisfaction rating takes into account Kaiser Permanente’s Better Business Bureau, National Committee for Quality Assurance, and Consumer Affairs ratings. These ratings are calculated using customer complaints and satisfaction ratings.

Value: The value rating calculates an insurer’s overall value based on monthly premium, annual deductible, office visit cost, ER visit cost, and annual maximum out-of-pocket cost.

Coverage: The coverage rating considers the insurer’s availability of coverages, plan types, and network size.

What Is the Best Catastrophic Health Insurance?

Catastrophic health insurance offers basic health care coverage in exchange for a lower monthly premium than traditional health insurance. But with this savings comes limitations. You must meet qualification requirements to apply for catastrophic coverage and coverage is lower than most other plans.

Who can get catastrophic health insurance?

Eligibility for a catastrophic plan is limited to:

  • People under 30
  • People of any age with an exemption for hardship or affordability

How much do catastrophic health insurance plans cost?

Monthly premiums for catastrophic plans are usually lower than other health care plans. However, you can’t use a premium tax credit on a catastrophic plan. The credit on a marketplace bronze or silver plan may lower your monthly premium cost to a better price than a catastrophic plan.

What’s covered on a catastrophic health insurance plan?

Catastrophic plan coverage is limited to essential health benefits, which include preventive care, hospital and emergency services, maternity, mental health, prescription drugs, and labs.

  • Catastrophic plans have a fixed deductible of $8,550 for individuals and $17,100 for families.
  • Coverage includes three primary care visits and a limited number of preventive health screenings.
  • All other services are paid for out-of-pocket and count toward your deductible.

Although catastrophic health plans must comply with the ACA, the plans are not eligible for tax credits. You’ll have to pay the full cost and may spend more than you would with a bronze or silver plan with a tax credit.

Aetna Catastrophic Insurance: Best for students

Aetna Medicare Insurance Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.81
Company founded 1853
Coverage area All
A.M. Best rating A+
BBB rating A+
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4.5 to 2.5
Provider network
  • Over 700,000 primary care providers and specialists

Founded in 1853, Aetna is one of the country’s oldest and most successful insurance companies. Today, it’s owned by the CVS Health Corporation and insures more than 39 million Americans, 22 million of whom are medical members. Aetna’s provider network includes more than 5,700 hospitals, 700,000 physicians, and 1.2 million health care professionals. Here’s what you should know.

Is Aetna a Good Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Aetna catastrophic insurance plans: The drawbacks of Aetna catastrophic insurance plans:
  • Impressive nationwide provider network
  • Affordable student insurance through select colleges
  • Does not offer Marketplace coverage for individuals

How is Aetna Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Aetna.

Financial strength rating: 5 Customer satisfaction rating: 4.75 Value rating: 4.75 Coverage rating: 4.75

Anthem Catastrophic Insurance: Best value

Anthem Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.19
Company founded 2004
Coverage area All
A.M. Best rating A+
BBB rating F
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4.5 to 2.5
Provider network
  • Large

Anthem, formerly known as WellPoint, is one of the largest for-profit distributors of branded insurance plans administered by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. It ensures approximately 40 million members across the country. Blue-branded policies are available in 14 states, from California to New England. In addition to offering Medicare, Medicaid, and employer-sponsored benefits, Anthem sells short-term health insurance and catastrophic Marketplace plans in select states. Read on to see if Anthem is the right choice for you.

Is Anthem a Good Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Anthem catastrophic insurance plans: The drawbacks of Anthem catastrophic insurance plans:
  • Wide variety of coverage options in many states
  • Offers private and government-sponsored plans
  • Moderate quality ratings for catastrophic coverage
  • Services provided by regional HMOs

How Is Anthem Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Anthem.

Financial strength rating: 5 Customer satisfaction rating: 3.25 Value rating: 4 Coverage rating: 4.5

Blue Cross Blue Shield Catastrophic Insurance: Best for families

Blue Cross Blue Shield Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.63
Company founded 1929
Coverage area All
A.M. Best rating A+
BBB rating A+
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4 to 3
Provider network
  • Large

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association provides health, life, disability insurance, and dental benefits to millions of members. The company has earned the highest rating in A.M. Best for its financial strength. Keep reading to find out more about Blue Cross Blue Shield’s extensive selection of health insurance plans for individuals and families, including catastrophic coverage.

Is Blue Cross Blue Shield a Good Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Blue Cross Blue Shield catastrophic insurance plans: The drawbacks of Blue Cross Blue Shield catastrophic insurance plans:
  • Above-average ratings for member satisfaction
  • Limited coverage for out-of-network services
  • Lower ratings for quality of care

How is Blue Cross Blue Shield Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Financial strength rating: 5 Customer satisfaction rating: 4.5 Value rating: 4.5 Coverage rating: 4.5

Cigna Catastrophic Insurance: Best for no-charge services

Cigna Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.16
Company founded 1981
Coverage area Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia
A.M. Best rating A
BBB rating A-
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4 to 2.5
Provider network
  • Large

Cigna is a global health service company with over 17 million insured individuals worldwide and more than 200 years of industry experience. Individual and family plans, including catastrophic health insurance, are available in 10 states. Cigna has excellent ratings for financial stability. Continue reading to learn more about the company’s coverage options.

Is Cigna a Good Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Cigna catastrophic insurance plans: The drawbacks of Cigna catastrophic insurance plans:
  • High-deductible insurance with no charge for some services
  • Catastrophic plans are not available in all areas
  • Marketplace coverage is limited to 10 states

How is Cigna Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Cigna.

Financial strength rating: 5 Customer satisfaction rating: 4.5 Value rating: 4.5 Coverage rating: 4.5

Highmark Catastrophic Insurance: Best for quality

Highmark Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.13
Company founded 1996
Coverage area Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia
A.M. Best rating A
BBB rating A-
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4 to 3.5
Provider network
  • Large

Highmark is a diverse health organization offering individual and family insurance plans and reinsurance, and health care technology. Here are a few reasons to consider Highmark as your health insurance provider.

Is Highmark a Good Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Highmark catastrophic insurance plans: The drawbacks of Highmark catastrophic insurance plans:
  • Excellent availability of plans, including catastrophic coverage
  • Access to a comprehensive EPO network
  • Regional coverage limited to three states
  • Third-party plan administration

How Is Highmark Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Highmark.

Financial strength rating: 4.5 Customer satisfaction rating: 4 Value rating: 4 Coverage rating: 4

Humana Catastrophic Health Insurance: Best for older adults

Humana Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.38
Company founded 1961
Coverage area All
A.M. Best rating A-
BBB rating A+
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4 to 2.5
Provider network
  • Large

Humana is a long-standing health insurance company that was once one of the largest hospital and nursing home operators in the United States. Today, it provides health insurance to 17 million Americans, and more than 5 million customers have purchased its specialty insurance products. Seniors who want catastrophic coverage can consider purchasing a high-deductible version of Medigap Plan G. You’ll find some of Humana’s pros and cons below.

Is Humana a Good Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Humana catastrophic insurance plans: The drawbacks of Humana Health insurance plans:
  • Options for stand-alone vision, dental, or Rx coverage
  • Many Medicare plans are efficient and affordable. Health care is available through Permanente Medical Groups consisting of 39 hospitals, 724 medical offices, and more than 23,000 physicians. The company offers insurance for individuals and families, including those who are covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Negative customer feedback on some plans
  • Doesn’t offer individual health insurance
  • Custom plans relatively expensive

How is Humana Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Humana.

Financial strength rating: 4 Customer satisfaction rating: 4.5 Value rating: 4.5 Coverage rating: 4.5

Kaiser Permanente Health Insurance: Best for high NCQA rating

Kaiser Permanente Logo 2

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.6
Company founded 1945
Coverage area
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.
A.M. Best rating A+
BBB rating A
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 5 to 4
Provider network
  • More than 22,000 Permanente Medical Group physicians and clinicians

Is Kaiser Permanente a Good Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Kaiser Permanente catastrophic insurance plans: The drawbacks of Kaiser Permanente catastrophic insurance plans:
  • Excellent quality ratings for plan administration
  • Low-income Charitable Health Coverage available in select areas
  • Coverage limited to certain states
  • Restrictive HMO service network

How Is Kaiser Permanente Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Kaiser Permanente.

Financial strength rating: 5 Customer satisfaction rating: 4.5 Value rating: 4.75 Coverage rating: 4

Molina Healthcare Catastrophic Insurance: Best for coverage options

Molina Healthcare Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 3.5
Company founded 1980
Coverage area California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin
A.M. Best rating A+
BBB rating F
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating N/A
Provider network
  • Large

Molina Healthcare is a Fortune 500 company that provides health insurance to 4.6 million members with marketplace plans in 13 states. Molina Healthcare’s catastrophic marketplace plans typically include basic medical services and access to an HMO network, which means that out-of-network care is subject to 100% coinsurance even after the deductible is paid. Read below for more information about this company.

Is Molina a Good Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Molina catastrophic insurance plans: The drawbacks of Molina catastrophic insurance plans:
  • Wide range of benefits
  • Excellent financial stability ratings
  • Marketplace plans are available only in select states
  • Coverage options are limited to certain geographic areas

How is Molina Healthcare Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Molina Healthcare.

Financial strength rating: 5 Customer satisfaction rating: 2 Value rating: 3 Coverage rating: 4

UnitedHealthcare Catastrophic Insurance: Best for financial strength

UnitedHealthcare Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.56
Company founded 1977
Coverage area All except New York
A.M. Best rating A-
BBB rating A+
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4.5 to 2.5
Provider network
  • 1.3 million physicians and care professionals
  • 6,500 hospitals and care facilities nationwide

UnitedHealthcare is a diversified insurance company that provides coverage to individuals and families. Members have access to a comprehensive service network that includes 1.3 million medical providers and 6,500 hospitals and licensed health care facilities. The company offers catastrophic marketplace plans that meet ACA requirements. Here’s what the company has to offer.

Is UnitedHealthcare a Good Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about UnitedHealthcare catastrophic insurance plans: The drawbacks of UnitedHealthcare catastrophic insurance plans:
  • Excellent selection of catastrophic plans
  • Offers private-pay and government-sponsored options
  • Third-party underwriting for short-term insurance

How Is UnitedHealthcare Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated UnitedHealthcare.

Financial strength rating: 4 Customer satisfaction rating: 2 Value rating: 3 Coverage rating: 4

WellCare Health Insurance: Best for prescription drug coverage

WellCare Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.06
Company founded 1985
Coverage area All
A.M. Best rating B
BBB rating A+
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 3
Provider network
  • Large

WellCare is part of Centene, a global health care leader that serves more than 25 million managed care members. It offers government-sponsored health care benefits in all 50 states. WellCare’s Part D prescription drug policies include catastrophic coverage that limits copays or coinsurance rates once Medicare beneficiaries hit an annual spending threshold. Keep reading to learn more about the company’s plans.

Is WellCare a Good Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about WellCare catastrophic insurance plans: The drawbacks of WellCare catastrophic insurance plans:
  • Excellent options for prescription drug coverage
  • Experience serving Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries
  • Emphasis on Medicare and Part D
  • Does not offer Marketplace plans

How is WellCare Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated WellCare.

Financial strength rating: 4 Customer satisfaction rating: 2 Value rating: 3 Coverage rating: 4

How to Compare Health Insurance Companies

There are numerous options to find affordable catastrophic health insurance plans depending on your needs and location. Here are a few ways to get started.

  • Determine which insurers are active in your area. Coverage options vary widely by county and state.
  • Check coverage. When you’re shopping, include information about preferred health providers and prescription medications to get a realistic cost estimate.
  • Compare premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. Catastrophic health insurance plans have high deductibles with lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs. Catastrophic Health Plans sold on the Marketplace pay for 100% of covered expenses after the deductible, so co-pays rarely apply.
  • Research industry ratings to measure the company’s financial stability. Customer reviews are also helpful for gauging the company’s efficiency and member satisfaction.
  • Get help. If you need additional help to select an affordable catastrophic insurance plan, reach out to an independent insurance agent or counselor. Resources may be available through various state agencies in your area.

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