“In 1996, the New York Times said the AARP’s credibility would be at stake if it proceeded with efforts to license its name to managed care plans for a fee because ‘the policies that might be best for the elderly are not always the policies that are best for the bank account of the A.A.R.P.'”
-Forbes, June 23, 2019
Here are some things we think AARP members should know:
AARP’s policy positions are often at odds with its members’ needs.
- AARP opposed Medicare reforms that would apply large discounts on drugs directly to patients’ bills at their local pharmacies. Health insurers and PBMs can currently keep some of these discounts for themselves.
- AARP supported price controls in the Inflation Reduction Act that will lead to access restrictions to cutting-edge drugs for diseases, like Alzheimer’s and cancer, higher taxes, and stifle R&D in new cures.
- Despite overwhelming opposition from its members, AARP leaders joined health insurers in support of Obamacare – which allowed the market for AARP/UnitedHealth Medigap plans to continue. At the time, 46% of people over 65 were against the Obamacare health plan, with 28% favoring it.
AARP has cozy relationships with health insurers.
- Based on recent financial statements, corporate royalty payments to AARP in 2021 continued to increase with the organization earning well more than $1 billion – for the second consecutive year – representing roughly 60% of the organization’s total operating revenues – much of it derived from a single company – United Health Group (UHG). UHG is one of the nation’s largest health insurance and pharmacy benefit management (PBM) corporations. Meanwhile, AARP saw a decline in membership dues in 2021.
AARP’s employees earn more than its members pay in dues.
Is AARP prioritizing its bottom-line over seniors?
- AARP’s lucrative financial partner, UnitedHealth, has been the subject of numerous investigations and allegations related to billions in overcharges related to Medicare.
- State Medicaid systems and other government health programs impacting seniors have also initiated investigations and inquiries related to the practices of UnitedHealth and OptumRx.
- Yet, despite such allegations and investigations, and the impact they may have had on seniors, AARP appears to have been largely silent. They continue to benefit from its partnership with both AARP’s royalties and UnitedHealth’s revenues continue to rise in tandem.