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Brand matters to health insurance consumers Posted: July 7th, 2013

By Maryalene LaPonsie

When comparing health insurance quotes, consumers say it is not merely the price tag on a policy that matters. According to a Harris Interactive poll, 82 percent of Americans say the health insurance brand is somewhat or very important when it comes to making a purchase.

Harris Poll not only looked at what was important to consumers when buying a policy, it also recently named the top health insurance brands according to consumer perceptions.

Price and benefits also important to consumers

While brand was important to consumers, it was not the only factor taken into consideration by those shopping for health insurance plans. Survey respondents said price plan and benefits were most important when buying medical insurance. Other areas of importance included the plan's network and insurer reputation.

The factors deemed most important by consumers broke down as follows according to the survey:

  • Price of plan, including premiums, deductibles, co-pays and other costs: 66 percent
  • Plan benefits: 64 percent
  • Doctors participating in plan network: 35 percent
  • Reputation of insurer: 30 percent
  • Hospitals participating in plan: 24 percent

Harris Interactive noted price plan, benefits and network providers were all deemed more important by women than by men.

Blue Cross Blue Shield: Health insurance brand of the year

As part of a separate Harris Poll, the marketing research firm calculated brand strength as part of its Brand Equity Index. The index spans more than 1,500 brands in variety of categories.

Companies were measured on consumer perception in three areas:

  • Familiarity
  • Quality
  • Purchase consideration

Coming in as the leading health insurance brand for the fourth consecutive year is Blue Cross and Blue Shield. In addition, two other companies scored above the category average. These companies are UnitedHealthcare and Health Net. In total, Harris included eight health insurance brands as part of its Brand Equity Index.

The research firm notes above average brands may have an advantage as the health reform law's individual health insurance mandate goes into effect next year and uninsured shoppers begin looking for coverage.

"A powerful brand can attract consumers, accentuate the focus on an insurer's strengths, help to acquire new members and retain current members, and reinforce the core component that all healthcare organizations are now focused on: the customer experience," said Debra Richman, senior vice president for healthcare strategy and business development at Harris Interactive, in a written statement.