AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, is an entity that older Americans are likely familiar with. AARP is non-governmental, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to empower people to choose how they live no matter their age. As part of AARP operations, it lobbies lawmakers to protect the health and independence of America’s aging population.
The primary focus of AARP is helping Americans 50-plus to continue to live their best lives and help them do so in part by offering their members access to carefully chosen benefits, from third-party companies.
In a nutshell, AARP Services, Inc. – an arm of AARP – vets and then fosters relationships with companies so that AARP members have available to them products that can help or enrich their lives. Main products include health care policies and long-term care products plus pharmacy services. An extensive list of other products are also available such as life insurance, auto and home insurance, technology services, a branded credit card, and travel and leisure discounts.
AARP is not an insurance company but does make available branded coverage to its members that it has vetted. While, insurance products are sold by third parties, such as The Hartford and UnitedHealthcare, AARP Services maintains quality control oversight of the options that has the AARP name attached to them. Unitedhealthcare makes branded AARP Medicare Advantage as well as AARP health insurance supplements available.
Policies, services and benefits that carry the AARP name are designed to serve the needs of older Americans that they cater to. Currently, the standard AARP membership costs $16 annually whether you are joining or renewing. A reduced rate of $12 is offered for those that auto renew and free membership is offered for spouse or partner.
AARP makes available several Medicare plans for members and non-members. All are supplied by UnitedHealthcare, a subsidiary of the healthcare giant UnitedHealth Group. Typically, to apply for Medicare coverages one must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident age 65 or older, though there are exceptions for those that are younger than 65 and have a qualifying disability or have end-stage rental disease.
AARP Medicare Advantage plans from UnitedHealthcare is a Part C plan, meaning it combines Medicare Part A (hospital stays) and Medicare Part B (doctor visits). Unlike Original Medicare, the government benefit Americans receive when they turn 65, Part C plans are administered by a private company and often include Part D (prescription drug coverage) as well as routine vision, hearing, dental and fitness coverage that isn’t covered by Original Medicare. You can learn more about choosing a Medicare Advantage plan here.
AARP’s Medicare Advantage plan is not available in Alaska, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Wyoming or the U.S. territories.
AARP’s Medicare Rx is a Medicare Part D plan, or a Medicare prescription drug plan, used in conjunction with either an Original Medicare plan or an Advantage plan that does not include prescription drug coverage. AARP has an online calculator that will let you estimate your drug costs and view plans available in your area.
AARP’s Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, policy can be used by those who are not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage program to reduce copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles under Medicare. Medigap policies generally do not cover long-term care, vision, or dental.
AARP is not an insurance company, but has had a relationship with UnitedHealthcare for over 20 years to help AARP members find reasonable healthcare coverage to fill the gaps original Medicare can leave.
How does UnitedHealthcare stand up among other health insurance providers? That is the question Insure.com asks current policyholders each year for its Best Health Insurance Company survey of over 2,400 consumers. We survey policyholders of the top 15 biggest health insurance providers, including UnitedHealthcare who provides the AARP branded health insurance plans.
In our 2020 survey, 373 UnitedHealthcare policyholders gave us feedback on the company they had chosen to be their healthcare provider. When compared against other top performing health insurance providers, UnitedHealthcare (UHC) came in 13th. While that is on the lower end of rankings, the overall score was still a respectable 81.10, which gave it a 3.5-star rating.
UnitedHealthcare received its highest individual rating factor ranking of 10th place for ease of use for its website and apps. Other rankings include, 11th for claim handling, 13th for price and 14th for customer service. While the rankings were towards the bottom the scores were still decent with only price dipping below the 80 mark at 78.28 (for price). The majority of those surveyed, 91%, said they planned to renew with UHC. So, while the coverage may not be perfect, its policyholders found it good enough to keep the policy going forward.
Our baby boomer and beyond surveyed policyholders (age 55 or above), UnitedHealthCare did even better in the rankings, with an overall finish of 7thplace and score of 84.35, giving it a four-star rating. Its best ranking spot was third, again for ease of use of the website and apps.
Penny Gusner, Insure.com’s senior consumer analyst, explored the UHC website and found the simple layout allows one to easily shop for a plan. There are useful resources to learn about enrollment, types of plans and more in-depth Medicare information. UHC gives consumers not only a way to shop but the knowledge to be an informed shopper.
The app you can place on your mobile devices can help you find network doctors, clinics and hospitals in your area as well as check review and ratings on doctors. Another perk is the ability to talk to a doctor by video 24/7. So that your ID or claims don’t get misplaced, you can store and view those on the app. You have the ability to check account balances through the app, as well as manage your prescriptions and their refills.
A reason consumers are so happy with the app is that lets you stay on top of medical costs by having the ability to get estimates on the costs of common procedures, view your own copay, deductible and out-of-pocket expenses.
Before buying any type of insurance, we recommend that you check its financial strength standing. You do not want to pay out premiums to a company that is not financially stable enough to pay out claims you may have down the line.
A.M. Best assigned UnitedHealthcare an A (Excellent) rating and their longer-term outlook is positive. This should reassure that UnitedHealthCare’s has the financial strength to pay claims out to consumers who purchase their policies. Knowing this should give you piece of mind when paying premiums if you choose them as your health care company.
Complaint ratios for insurance companies can be found on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) site. The median complaint ratio from the NAIC is always 1.00. This means half of the insurers have a complaint ratio of under 1.00 and half have a ratio above. Basically, numbers lower than 1.00 are better with fewer complaints than the median and a number higher than 1.00 has more complaints than the median.
For Medicare supplement insurance, UnitedHealthcare (NAIC# 79413) had a complaint ratio of 0.39 for 2019, which is good news. For all Medicare Supplement coverage, they received 56 complaints, which Medicare Advantage received only seven. It comes as no surprise the main reason for a complaint is denial of claim and then unsatisfactory settlement or offer, as these tend to be the main complaints that come in for health insurance providers. In our survey, UnitedHealthcare actually received its best score, 84.92, in claims handling. With our older surveyed policyholders, those 55 and older, the scores were even better for claims, with a score of 88.91.
Sampling of feedback from those that said they had Medicare Advantage with UHC in our consumer review survey:
|54||Female||Virginia||United Healthcare has a lot to offer and at little or no price to the consumer. They stay connected to their clients and offer many preventative services for free.|
|80||Male||Missouri||Great claims department|
|69||Male||Florida||They offer flexibility in prices and coverage to fit the inddividual. Their have a high reputation for good service. They are easy to deal with and I have no negative feelings about them.|
|66||Female||California||Good customer service|
|71||Female||California||Great company with low premiums. Exactly what I was looking for.|
|73||Female||Colorado||I am completely satisfied with my company and would recommend it to my friends.|
|72||Female||Florida||Always available and ready for complaints, criticism, and accolades. Have called late at night to get clarification on things and and they still sounded sincere and caring.|
|76||Male||Colorado||I like the personal touch that they supply and are always on top of any situation I have ever had. They always go the extra mile.|
|69||Male||New Hampshire||They listen. They are fast with claims. Live claims person when called.|
|67||Male||Texas||I find it to be a good company with very good customer service.|
|81||Female||Pennsylvania||Price is within my budget. Ease of making payments, claims and asking questions.|
Our survey participants did not mention if they obtained the AARP branded Medicare coverage, but you should expect at least the same level of service, if not better, with the AARP health insurance plans since AARP Services has quality oversight over the plans.
AARP no longer has a program for new health insurance plans for those that are ages 50 to 64, but does make available other products in the medical arena that are beneficial to this age group and beyond. This includes dental, vision and short-term care policies.
The AARP Dental Insurance Plan is administered by Delta Dental, a national network of insurers under the umbrella of the nonprofit Delta Dental Plan Association. Plans are available in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Plans that can be used at any dentist have annual deductible as low as $40 and pay up to $1,500 annually. A DeltaCare plan requires use of an in-network dentist and uses copays instead of a deductible.
Add up the costs and benefits of each plan carefully before buying. Unlike health insurance, dental insurance in general often does not cover the bulk of any procedure, risking little benefit to the customer. A Consumer Reports review of AARP’s PPO “Plan B” dental insurance, for example, found that it cost at least $474 per year with a $100 deductible and a max annual payout of $1,000. “And you pay part of the cost for all services and procedures,” says CR. “So, you’d spend at least $574 before reaping a benefit.”
AARP’s preferred provider organization (PPO) plans can be on expensive side, but they do cater to the needs of seniors. Plan A pays for three cleanings and exams annually as well as covering part of the cost of implants and denture work.
AARP offers MyVision Care through EyeMed, a national network that can be accessed at more than 54,000 retail locations. AARP plans are available in the District of Columbia and every state except Massachusetts, Montana and North Carolina.
The three plans range in price from $4.38 to $31.38 per month, and all offer regular comprehensive eye exams for the cost of a copay only, discounts on frames and lenses, and loss-of-sight and diabetic-vision benefits. Since these services are generally not included in basic health insurance policies, a vision plan can be a good addition for anyone who needs corrective lenses.
While not health care coverage, short-term disability care and long-term care help reimburse you for services needed to help you maintain your life due to illness, injury, age or cognitive impairment.
The AARP offers short-term care insurance from Medico, a subsidiary of American Enterprise Group. The AARP plans are available in 17 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Short-term care is for those who have a board-certified physician acknowledge they’re unable to fully take care of themselves as well as those who suffer from cognitive impairment. It covers assisted-living services but typically for no longer than 12 months, so is a shortened alternative to long-term care (discussed below). Services include:
The AARP plan also provides up to $500 each for the costs of a care coordinator and for assistance with household chores like mowing the lawn or cleaning the house.
An online calculator allows you to estimate the costs of short-term coverage for different benefit levels, from $100 to $300 per day, and different terms, from 120 to 360 days. As an example, a 65-year-old woman in North Carolina opting for benefits of $200 a day that would go into effect immediately when needed and last for 240 days would cost $107.71 per month. At that calculation, the total benefit amount available would be $48,000 and would cost the customer $1,292.52 per year.
The AARP offers long-term care plans through New York Life, a 175-year-old mutual life insurer — one owned by policy holders and not investors. AARP long-term care is available in every state and district except Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Long term care helps cover the costs of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and in-home care that are not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or health insurance, such as bathing, eating, and transferring. AARP has a calculator to estimate the costs of different kinds of long-term care in your area.
Long-term care coverage is not cheap, and is generally recommended for individuals or couples who expect to have enough money to make them ineligible for Medicaid but not enough to comfortably pay $50,000 to $100,000 per year for any long-term care that might be needed.
The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance finds that rates for virtually identical coverage can vary by more than 110 percent. That said, it found that the average annual premiums in 2020 for 55-year-olds were $1,700 for a single male, $2,650 for a single female, and $3,050 for a couple.
Members cannot get an instant quote from AARP on its long-term care plans, and will have to fill out a form online to receive a personal consultation by phone.
AARP not only makes available special plans with a variety of healthcare and medical providers; it offers tools to help aging Americans make wise choices with items such as:
AARP also has a relationship with HearUSA so Members save 20% on the cost of hearing aids. Other benefits include: a free hearing check-up, a free cleaning and check of current hearing aids, a free demonstration of the latest hearing aid technology, a risk-free 90-day trial, a 1-year extended follow-up care at no additional charge, a 3-year manufacturer warranty, and a free 3-year supply of batteries.
Beyond health insurance AARP Services have vetted and have quality oversight on relationships with the following companies for the following types of services:
New York Life for:
The Hartford for:
Yes, AARP does have health insurance though it is provided by a third-party provider, currently that is UnitedHealthcare, who they’ve had a relationship with since 1997. Those 65+ can get health insurance through AARP if in need of a Medicare Advantage or Medicare-related plans. UnitedHealthcare Medicare options range from basic plans that help cover out-of-pocket-expenses to comprehensive plans. Beyond just health insurance, AARP makes available other medical-related plans such as dental, vision and hearing from their affiliation with other providers such Delta Dental, EyeMed and HearUSA.
The age at which you can get health insurance plans that AARP makes available through its partnership with UnitedHealthcare are for those eligible for medicare, which would typically be Americans age 65 or older. For other medical plans that are for hearing, vision and dental, are for all AARP members, thus those 50 years of age or older.
No, membership is not required to apply for AARP branded health insurance (Medicare Advantage plans) with UnitedHealthcare. While AARP does have some member only areas and special content and discounts, for their branded Medicare health insurance plans you do not need to be a member. For special pricing and other medical-related plans, such as dental with Delta Dental, you do need to be a member. Keep in mind it costs only around $12 to $16 a year for an AARP membership if you want those extras.
The cost of the health insurance plans AARP makes available its partnership with UnitedHealthcare varies depending on what plan you choose and where you live but for the Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan the premium range is typically $0 to $25 monthly. Part D, your prescription drug plan, is pricier with costs starting $30 range and going up to $90 or more.