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Blog Post: Commitment to Seniors’ Latest Ad “Celebrates” AARP’s Billion Dollar Bond with Big Insurance

Commitment to Seniors launched a new television ad today “celebrating” AARP’s latest financial milestone: earning an unprecedented $1 billion in corporate royalties in a single year­—mostly derived from UnitedHealthcare, one of the nation’s largest health insurance corporations. In total, AARP has raked in more than $9 billion from corporate royalties over the last decade.

AARP partners with big health insurers while lobbying Congress against Medicare reforms that would benefit seniors, like applying rebates directly at the pharmacy counter. Instead, AARP wants to give the government more power over prescription medications through dangerous price-setting policies. These price-setting schemes would restrict access to new medications while failing to guarantee that funds won’t be spent on unrelated government programs or used to pad the profits of big insurance companies, like UnitedHealthcare.

AARP’s true agenda has become increasingly aligned with the financial interests of its corporate partners, despite their claims to serve the interests of American retirees. A newly updated report, “How AARP Puts Profits Over Patients – and Principles,” examines the sources of the organization’s wealth:

The result of the two trends—membership dues growing slowly, and royalty fees growing exponentially—has made AARP much more reliant on marketing income as a share of its overall revenues. Since 2000, membership dues have nearly halved as a percentage of AARP’s total operating revenues, from 28.9% to 17.7% in 2019.14 Meanwhile, marketing income has grown from 35.6% of operating revenues to 57.6%, meaning AARP gets more than three times more of its budget from selling other products to members than it does from membership dues themselves.

If seniors pay just $16 per year for their membership, but AARP receives $1 billion annually from their corporate partners, whose interests do you believe they’re prioritizing?