The AARP brand looms large in the Medicare market. The relationship that AARP has with older adults begins when people reach the age of 50 and receive an invitation to join the organization.
Many people join AARP for benefits related to travel and other discounts and eventually purchase an AARP Medicare product. Or do they? AARP is a not-for-profit organization but many people mistakenly believe that they are an insurance company. None the less AARP Medicare products are wildly popular.
The insurance company behind the brand
AARP Medicare health plans are offered exclusively by United HealthCare. Medicare plans include:
- Medicare Supplements
- Medicare Advantage Plans
- Medicare Part D Plans
It’s important to note that not all plans may necessarily be available to you as plans can in some cases be offered on a State-by-State or even County-by-County basis.
AARP Medicare supplements are widely available to people who are entitled to or enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. Medicare supplements, also known as Medigap, are offered as standardized plans with benefits being the same from one company to the next. Premiums are based on a number of factors that may include; age, gender and health status.
Understanding how a company sets premiums can help you choose the right company to insure you against the unpredictable costs associated with the gaps in original Medicare.
A Medicare supplement fills in the gaps of Medicare covered expenses by covering the Medicare beneficiaries’ share of required costs to one degree to another depending on the individual standardized plan. Services not covered by Medicare such as most dental, vision and gym memberships are not covered by a Medicare supplemental policy.
The purchase of a supplemental policy does not afford you Part D drug coverage. A separate Medicare RX plan must be purchased. The Part D plan can be evaluated on an annual basis during the Annual Enrollment Period and can be changed if need be.
Many people purchase an AARP Medicare supplement to avoid network restrictions and because of the strong history of rate stability.
Currently, the most popular plan is Medicare supplement Plan F due to it’s depth of coverage. The AARP membership includes additional benefits that complement the supplemental coverage, such as vision discounts.
AARP Medicare Advantage plans are available by Secure Horizons which is a United Healthcare brand. AARP MedicareComplete may very well be the most recognized Advantage plan available. MedicareComplete may be available as either a PPO or HMO.
In order to join an Advantage Plan you must have both Parts A and B and live within the plan’s service area. MedicareComplete is offered on a County-by-County basis. Benefits can vary from one plan to the next and the same plan may even include different benefit levels from one County to another. Medicare Advantage Plans may be available for monthly premiums as low as $0.
Even though plans are available with a $0 monthly premium, they cannot be considered free Medicare plans.
An Advantage Plan is not a Medicare supplement, but rather is another way to receive your Medicare benefits. A private insurance company, such as United Healthcare, is approved and contracted with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to administer your Medicare and provide benefits based on an agreed upon schedule.
Many people purchase an AARP Medicare Advantage Plan to avoid the monthly premium associated with a supplemental policy and to receive additional benefits not covered by Medicare. These benefits may include; dental, vision, health club memberships, transportation to and from medical appointments, as well as others.
Medicare Part D is included in AARP MedicareComplete plans. If you have access to creditable drug coverage, such as from the Veterans Administration and want a medical-only Advantage plan, check out AARP MedicareComplete Choice Essential.
AARP Medicare Part D can be purchased as a stand alone RX plan or as a complement to a Medicare supplement. It is important to purchase a Part D plan when you are first eligible so as not to incur a late enrollment penalty.
Popular AARP Medicare Rx plans include:
- AARP Preferred Rx Plan
- AARP Enhanced Rx Plan
The plan you choose should depend mostly on what prescriptions you are required to take as well as what premium is affordable to you. Whether you choose to join an AARP Medicare drug plan or another plan, reviewing the plan’s Part D formulary is key to getting the best plan for your circumstances.
In the Annual Enrollment Period for Part D as well as Advantage Plans begins October 15th and ends on December 7th. During this time you can evaluate plans to determine if switching would be in your best interests.
Which AARP Medicare Plan is best?
Choosing a Medicare plan should be based on your individual circumstances. What is right for someone else may not be your best option. Here are some things to consider when choosing a plan:
- What is affordable?
- How is your current health?
- Will you be happy staying within a network?
- Do you require benefits beyond original Medicare?
- Is Medicare and Part D enough?
AARP Medicare Plans are one choice to consider. There are many competing plans that may suit your needs. Shopping online and visiting the official Medicare website can help you determine which type of plan and which company is your best fit.