AARP’s Part C Coverage Goes Far Beyond Original Medicare
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Most seniors approaching retirement know that AARP is a great resource for people over the age of 50. In addition to regular publications and educational resources, AARP is linked with many partners to help older adults find everything from financial advisors to car insurance. AARP even provides its own Medicare Advantage plans through UnitedHealthcare. In this review, we will examine the Medicare Part C plans available to AARP members and evaluate their pros and cons.
Did You Know: Medicare Advantage allows seniors and certain disabled individuals to get Medicare through a private insurer.
AARP has the same plan types as most other Medicare Advantage providers. These plans include the essential coverage you would expect with Medicare Part C, including Part A, Part B, and Part D. Plus, most AARP plans come with vision, dental, and hearing coverage — benefits you cannot get with Original Medicare. Let's take a closer look at AARP's Medicare Advantage plan types.
An AARP health maintenance organization (HMO) plan requires you to get the majority of your non-emergency care within a preset network of healthcare providers. Most AARP HMOs include Part D prescription drug coverage and many of the extra benefits that come with all AARP Medicare Advantage plans. You will need to choose a primary care physician and receive treatment within your network, as AARP's traditional HMO does not cover most treatments received outside of your network. HMOs are best for seniors who do not travel much and spend most of their time near in-network providers.
An AARP HMO with point-of-service (POS) coverage allows you to get some types of treatments outside of your network. While your coverage does extend farther, you will still have to pay more when you go out of network. Like its standard HMO plans, AARP's HMO-POS plans often come with a low or $0 premium, prescription drug coverage, and extra benefits. This type of plan gives older adults more freedom to travel without losing their Medicare coverage. However, both types of HMO plans will generally require prior authorization for treatments and approval from your primary care physician to see specialists.
When compared to an HMO plan, a preferred provider organization (PPO) plan offers much more freedom, as you can see any physician who accepts Medicare. You won't be required to get referrals, approvals, or prerequisite hospital visits for most services. However, PPOs still operate within the UnitedHealthcare Medicare National Network, and you'll pay more for out-of-network visits. Like HMO plans, you can find many AARP PPO plans with a low or $0 premium.
AARP's private fee-for-service (PFFS) plan does not have a network. Instead, you can see anyone who accepts Medicare to get treatment. However, some of AARP's PFFS plans do not automatically come with Part D coverage; you may have to pay to get a stand-alone Part D plan if you want prescription drug coverage. This plan is best for seniors who want autonomy to get treatment from the doctor or facility of their choice without worrying about networks.
An AARP special needs plan (SNP) has a provider network and is available to those who qualify based on unique healthcare or financial circumstances. This type of plan is not available to everyone. If you do qualify, you can rest easy knowing that all AARP SNP plans come with Part D prescription drug coverage.
With AARP Medicare Advantage plans through UnitedHealthcare you'll have access to perks like the following:
Did You Know: AARP also offers Medicare Supplement plans and ranks on our list of the best Medigap plans!
It is important to remember that many of the benefits listed above are not available with every AARP plan. You will need to check your individual plan to ensure you can access the best benefits for you.
The exact cost of your AARP Medicare Part C plan will vary based on a variety of considerations, including your location, your plan type, and the kinds of medications and treatments you require. However, it is always good to know what to expect when it comes to your healthcare costs. Here are some specific factors and costs to expect with AARP Plan C coverage:
Did You Know: AARP has more than 38 million members throughout the United States, making it the largest organization and interest group for older Americans.
AARP generally offers lower costs than many other providers, especially when it comes to out-of-pocket costs like copayments. So, if you want an affordable Medicare Advantage plan, AARP is a solid option.
AARP's plans from UnitedHealthcare are available in 48 states plus the District of Columbia. Alaska and Louisiana are the only states where AARP Medicare Advantage is unavailable. That said, UnitedHealthcare has one of the largest national networks for Medicare Advantage (over 1 million network providers), making it easier for seniors in most parts of the country to get access to affordable Medicare Advantage plans.
When shopping for a Medicare Advantage plan, we recommend checking out what reputable third-party sources have to say about the provider. Below, you will find ratings of AARP from some of the top business and insurance review agencies in the country. These ratings use a wide range of criteria, from the value and diversity of offerings to the quality of the provider's business practices and customer service:
As previously mentioned, AARP's Medicare Advantage plans are underwritten by UnitedHealthcare. That means you will have to contact UnitedHealthcare's customer support center for assistance. You can call them toll-free, seven days a week, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Alternatively, you can message an agent online or set up a virtual or in-person meeting with an agent. You can access all of the information for contacting UnitedHealthcare customer service right here.
Did You Know: There are certain times of year when you can enroll in Medicare Advantage plans. Visit our guide to Medicare enrollment to learn more.
AARP is one of the best Medicare Advantage providers on the market. In addition to low copays and deductibles, most of AARP's plans come with important benefits like prescription drug, vision, dental, and hearing coverage. Prices will vary widely based on your plan type and healthcare needs. You will also need to pay to become an AARP member before you can qualify for a Part C plan. Nonetheless, AARP's Medicare Advantage (underwritten by Unitedhealthcare) plans outpace those of many competitors in terms of pricing, benefits, and overall value.
Medicare.gov. (2022). Medicare costs at a glance.