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Avera began as a health ministry of two local Catholic orders, the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton, SD, and the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen, SD. Their sponsorship continues to this day, which makes Avera a part of the Catholic Church. In 1999, the company began offering health insurance plans to its employees, later expanding their offerings to the general public as individual plans.
Since 1993 Avera has been a leader in virtual health services with the creation of eCARE, an online service that provides access to doctors, nurses, and pharmacists around the clock. The company was the first to offer liver transplant services as well as bone marrow transplant services in the region of South Dakota and surrounding areas.
Avera serves 86 counties with over 330 locations. Health plans are available to all residents of those areas who do not have employer-provided health care. The company does not require members to be a part of the Catholic Church, although their status as a ministry means that religious beliefs and values are at the root of company values and many spiritual services are offered to members, in addition to medical needs.
Health plans offered include a variety of PPO coverage levels as well as Medicare Supplement insurance. Avera doesn’t currently provide Medicare Advantage or Part D (prescription drug) plans; currently there are only supplement plans to cover those items not covered by original Medicare.
Avera Medicare Plans
Avera’s Medicare Supplement plans are currently only available in South Dakota and Iowa. The Avera website makes plan information and rates readily available for both states, including an easy to read chart of plan costs based on plan type, age, and gender. There is no need to enter any personal information in order to get plan and price information, which will appeal to those who prefer to protect their privacy and not receive solicitations via email or phone just to get a quote.
Both states have a range of plans available, although some plans are limited to selected counties. Standard plans are available in all counties of both states, while counties offering select plans are listed on the website for each state. In addition, Avera offers fewer plan options in Iowa than in South Dakota.
Medicare supplement plans range from Plan A, which is the most basic plan and covers hospitalization, medical expenses, blood, and hospice care beyond the limits of Medicare. All of the additional plans also offer this basic coverage base with additional elements such as deductibles, co-pays, and foreign travel emergency. The range of plans and prices in chart form makes it easy to compare the different plans and determine which combination of coverage and cost works best for each individual.
Medicare Supplement Rates
Avera rate charts make it easy to determine what your premium for coverage. Each chart breaks down the coverage into plan type by age and gender. Since the company covers such a limited area, however, it’s difficult to provide a comparison to other companies in regards to their rates.
Avera Ratings and Reviews
Avera Health Plans has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and there are no complaints on record in the past three years. Even for a small regional insurer, it’s a good sign to have no complaints listed.
Avera doesn’t appear on any of the main review websites used by the general public for insurance plan complaints. This is likely due to the company’s size and regional limitations. When it comes to insurance companies, no reviews at all usually point to a positive reputation. People are far more likely to leave a review when they are dissatisfied than when they are happy with an insurance company. As a result, a lack of reviews generally means there aren’t a lot of complaints out there.
Avera was ranked by the NCQA (National Committee for Quality Assurance) across three areas. In Consumer Satisfaction, the company received a 3.0 (average) rating. In the area of Prevention, their rating was a lower 2.0, and finally, in Treatment, they again received a 3.0. There is no detail available to disclose where the company might have fallen short, but it’s worth noting that overall, they performed better than major insurer Cigna, and that none of the better performing companies reached a 5.0 in any area.
In terms of Medicare, Avera is a good choice for those who are seeking Medicare supplement insurance and prefer a small, local insurer. The company is very strong on their religious background, which may not appeal to everyone, but may be a deciding factor for those who prefer a Christian organization for their health needs. Their service area for Medicare is limited, so they will only be an option for those within the counties where plans are offered. However, if they fit your criteria for a health insurance company, they do come with a good reputation.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.