News & Blogs

During this Year’s Medicare Open Enrollment, Don’t Assume AARP Has Your Best Interests in Mind

Millions of seniors are considering their options during this year’s Medicare open enrollment period, which is underway through December 7. Before making this important decision, though, seniors should do their research. This is especially true if they are considering an AARP-promoted Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan.

Currently, AARP maintains an exclusive relationship with UnitedHealthcare (UHC)—meaning they only sell plans carried by that insurance giant. However, these plans are overpriced when purchased through AARP. So why, then, does the AARP continue to promote costly insurance to seniors?

Commitment to Seniors’ newly updated report on the AARP and UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, points to a disappointing answer. The report details how AARP receives a 4.95% royalty from United Health Group on every plan marketed and sold to AARP members—to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The report explains:

“[AARP] embeds ‘royalty fees’ within the premium of those who purchase Medicare supplemental policies… effectively overcharging seniors to fund AARP’s own operations. AARP’s revenue from these sales, and from UnitedHealth, which licenses AARP-branded Medigap and Medicare Advantage coverage, has grown year after year. Since 2007, the organization has received an estimated $6.7 billion tax-free in revenue from UnitedHealth.”

Seniors have the option to buy the same—or better—plans without the “finder’s fee.” AARP and its corporate sponsor have a long history of putting the interests of seniors behind those of their own bottom lines. For example, AARP has opposed Medicare reforms that would have applied large discounts to seniors’ prescription drug costs, which seniors would have received directly at the pharmacy counter. Moreover, the supposed “senior advocacy” organization supports socialist-style price controls which inevitably lead to access restrictions for certain medications like those used to treat Alzheimer’s and cancer.

With policy positions like these, it’s no wonder that AARP has been forced to admit in court filings that it doesn’t need to “act with the interest of [its members] in mind.” Expanding on that, the organization’s attorneys wrote, “The relationship between a member and a membership organization is not one of ‘trust or confidence’ that creates a fiduciary duty,” and that membership “does not ‘transcend an ordinary business’ relationship.”

Navigating the many choices and bureaucrat-speak involved in your Medicare plan can be daunting, and it is understandable that seniors would look for advice from a well-known seniors’ advocacy organization. However, seniors should know the unfortunate truth that what AARP is really advocating for seems to be its own bottom line – and that of its Big Insurance financial backer.

AARP advocates for who?