Kaiser vs. Anthem

The two most popular plans for Coloradoans, ranked & compared

As Coloradoans, there are some choices that we all have to make sooner or later. Like whether we’re going to spend our Sunday mornings on I-70, questing for fresh powder, or on the couch waiting for the Broncos to start.

When it comes to the Colorado Health Insurance Marketplace, we have a similar matchup. In the red corner: Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the largest for-profit insurance companies on the Fortune 500. In the blue corner: Kaiser Permanente, a nonprofit health management company with its own doctors and hospitals.

Choosing between Kaiser and Anthem in Colorado might seem like a difficult task. The truth is, all it comes down to is answering a few questions about the coverage you need. And perhaps more importantly, how much you’re willing to pay for it.

The Big Difference Between Kaiser and Anthem in Colorado

The most significant difference between Kaiser and Anthem are the way that they’re structured.

Anthem is a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Group, the second largest provider in the country. Their more traditional structure means that they work with hospitals and doctors to coordinate care and treatment.

Kaiser Permanente, on the other hand, is a non-profit company that owns its own care facilities. This means that they also employ their own care professionals. This managed-care model essentially means that the insurer and provider are the same company.

There are pros and cons to both providers. In addition to your own coverage preferences, where you live can be a limitation on what’s available.

Price Comparison: Kaiser Versus Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield

In counties where both plans are available, Kaiser tends to be priced slightly lower. This means that if you live close to a Kaiser facility, you might be one of the people who could save big.

However, many Coloradoans choose to remain with Anthem either way. Their larger provider network coupled with their considerable resources makes them popular for a large number of people. Most of the time, the prices are about the same, or only different by a few bucks.

Network Comparison: Kaiser vs. Anthem

With Kaiser Permanente, you have to use Kaiser doctors and Kaiser facilities. This can be a big turn-off for some people. In addition, their HMO network requires that you see providers in your area. If you travel for work or spend any time in another area, this can present problems.

Because Anthem Blue Cross contracts with independent hospitals, labs, and doctors , their members tend to have more flexibility in where they can seek treatment. 

They still only offer an HMO on the individual market, however, they do offer group PPOs. Those are priced a bit higher but provide even more flexibility for in and out of network coverage.

Q: Should I Choose Anthem or Kaiser?

Choosing between Anthem and Kaiser is a sort of rite of passage for Coloradoans. And  like any other big decision, it comes down to a little forethought. Both the frequency that you expect to use your coverage and the county you live in will come into play.

It’s worth mentioning that our clients overall have been happier with Anthem. Generally speaking, Kaiser has a reputation for being a little convoluted in how they do things. People simply think Anthem is a little easier.

But depending on your location and coverage needs, Kaiser might be too affordable to pass up. This is the kind of thing that our Benefits Managers excel at. In the scope of a quick phone call, they can help you understand which provider makes more sense.

Open Enrollment Begins on November 1st

The 2024 rates for both Anthem and Blue Cross will be available on November 1st. This is also the day that open enrollment begins. This is the only time of year when you can enroll in a new health insurance plan. For that reason, it helps to be ahead of the game in knowing which plan you’re interested in.

Still have questions about Anthem vs. Blue Cross? Your Personal Benefits Manager can help you choose the plan that’s actually right for you. Call today or click here to schedule an appointment.