Aetna vs. United Healthcare Medicare Plans

Aetna and UnitedHealthcare are two of the leading Medicare insurance providers in the US, each with strengths and weaknesses in their offerings.

Both Aetna and UnitedHealthcare provide Medicare Advantage (Part C), Medicare Part D drug plans, and Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap).

In a nutshell:

  • UnitedHealthcare offers more Advantage plan options than Aetna and has a larger network of providers.
  • Aetna has higher financial ratings than UnitedHealthcare.

Let’s dig deeper into what each of these top providers has to offer.

Aetna Medicare Plan Highlights

  • Availability: 50 states (varies by state and insurance plan)
  • Over 1.2M primary care doctors and specialists
  • Ranks second in telehealth customer satisfaction
  • Policy management can be done through the website, phone, and mobile app
  • Medigap plans are not available in Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, or the District of Columbia
  • Overall customer satisfaction lands below the industry average
  • Online price quotes and applications are unavailable in some states (must be done by phone)

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Plan Highlights

  • Availability: 50 states (varies by state and insurance plan)
  • Over 1.3M primary care doctors and specialists
  • Virtual doctor visits, gym memberships, and vision and hearing care discounts
  • Policy management can be done through the website, phone, and mobile app
  • Customers might feel overwhelmed by the company’s size and many affiliates
  • Premiums are much higher in certain regions
  • Member experience ratings are mediocre

Aetna vs. UnitedHealthcare: Medicare Plan Availability

Medicare Advantage Plans

UnitedHealthcare is the largest Medicare Advantage provider with 8.9 million members, while Aetna is the fourth-largest with 3.3 million.

Both Aetna and UnitedHealthcare offer various types of Medicare Advantage plans, including HMO plans (Health Maintenance Organization), PPO plans (Preferred Provider Organization), POS plans (Point-of-Service), and SNPs (Special Needs Plans).

However, when selecting an SNP, Aetna only offers plans for dual-eligible beneficiaries (people eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid) and not those with chronic conditions. 

Both companies also offer senior-focused fitness offerings. Aetna offers Medicare Advantage members access to the fitness program SilverSneakers, and UnitedHealthcare has a similar program called Renew Active.

Medicare Supplement Plans

Aetna and UnitedHealthcare offer guaranteed renewable Medigap policies with no network restrictions – meaning you can see any doctor who accepts Medicare.

UnitedHealthcare offers 9 out of the 10 standardized Medigap plans, including A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, and NAetna offers 7 out of the 10 Medigap plans in certain states, including A, B, C, D, F, G, and N.

Aetna offers a 7% household discount for eligible Medigap applicants when their spouse, civil union partner, or another adult they’ve lived with for at least 12 months enrolls in (or already has) an Aetna Medigap plan. UnitedHealthcare offers household and electronic funds transfer discounts based on location and household status.

Prescription Drug Plans

Aetna, a subsidiary of CVS Health, provides three prescription drug plan options with monthly premiums ranging from $11 to $104. UnitedHealthcare offers two national and two additional plans in specific states, with monthly premiums from $31 to $124.

Both Aetna and UnitedHealthcare offer a range of in-network pharmacy locations. Aetna has partnered with preferred pharmacies such as CVS, Kroger, Costco, and Albertsons. UnitedHealthcare is partnered with popular pharmacies like Walgreens and offers mail-order prescriptions through OptumRx.

Aetna vs. UnitedHealthcare: Medigap Premiums

We compared premium costs of popular Aetna and UHC Medigap plans in different states for your review:

  • Texas:
    Medigap PlanAetnaUHC
    Sample quotes are for a 65 y/o nonsmoking male in TX zip code 77494.
  • Ohio:
    Medigap PlanAetnaUHC
    Sample quotes are for a 65 y/o nonsmoking female in OH zip code 45011.
  • Georgia:
    Medigap PlanAetnaUHC
    Sample quotes are for a 65 y/o nonsmoking female in GA zip code 30044.
  • Illinois:
    Medigap PlanAetnaUHC
    Sample quotes are for a 65 y/o nonsmoking male in IL zip code 62279.

Premium Analysis

In summary, our research indicates that on average:

  • UHC premiums are 16% lower than Aetna’s in Texas
  • UHC premiums are 7.5% lower than Aetna’s in Ohio
  • Aetna premiums are 8% lower than UHC’s in Georgia
  • UHC premiums are 8.8% lower than Aetna’s in Illinois

It’s important to be aware that actual premiums will vary depending on age, gender, location, and tobacco status.

Aetna vs. UnitedHealthcare: Extra Perks

Aetna members can access discounts on a range of health-related products and services. These include an online health coaching program, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic visits, nutrition services, and vision care services such as eye exams, glasses, contact lenses, LASIK, and sunglasses.

Additionally, Aetna members can access discounts on hearing care services such as exams, hearing aids, repairs, and follow-up services.

Most UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans offer HouseCalls for annual home visits with licensed clinicians and $0 copays for telehealth.

UHC members can earn rewards for health tasks like their annual physicals. Dual health plan members may also get an allowance for healthy food, over-the-counter items, and utility bills.

  • Dental Policies:
    • Aetna and UHC both offer standalone dental plans that start at $16/month and $20/month.  Aetna’s dental network has over 420,000 providers, while UHC’s has more than 1.1 million.

    • The level of coverage you choose will determine what benefits are included, such as preventative care (routine exams, teeth cleanings, X-rays, fluoride treatments), basic services (fillings, tooth extractions), advanced care (root canals, bridges, crowns), and emergency dental care.

Aetna vs. UnitedHealthcare: Ratings

Medicare beneficiaries have access to an impartial rating system, the Medicare Star Ratings, to evaluate healthcare plans and determine how well a provider performs. 

According to the 2023 Medicare Star Ratings, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans received an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Additionally, Aetna holds an A+ rating with Standard and Poor’s and the Better Business Bureau, an A rating with Moody’s and A.M. Best, and an A+ with Fitch Ratings. UnitedHealthcare holds an A rating with Moody’s and A.M. Best and an AA with Fitch Ratings.

Bottom Line

UnitedHealthcare and Aetna Medicare plans have minor differences; we consider them top-notch providers.

While UnitedHealthcare offers a more diverse lineup of Special Needs Medicare Advantage plans and a slightly more extensive network of healthcare providers, it’s key to check out various plans in your specific area.

Look at premiums, extra benefits, drug coverage, and if your doctor is in the plan network to pick the best Medicare provider for you.

Sources: Aetna Medicare Plan Info | UHC Medicare Plan Info


Mark Prip

Since 2003, Mark Prip has been leading  Policy Guide, Inc., providing knowledgeable information about Medicare, life insurance, and dental coverage to clients in over forty states. With his unparalleled hands-on experience aiding countless Medicare beneficiaries in selecting an appropriate health plan, he is a prime example amongst other competitors for expertise and assistance. Mark has held his Florida Health & Life Insurance License (E051889) since 2003. View his license profile on the Florida Department of Insurance website.