Comprehensive Part C Coverage That Can Work in Tandem With AARP Benefits
SeniorLiving.org is compensated when you click on the provider links listed on this page. This compensation does not impact our ratings or reviews.
If you are an AARP member, you might have already heard of UnitedHealthCare's Medicare Advantage plans. AARP works exclusively with UnitedHealthCare to offer Part C plans to millions of seniors across the country. However, you do not have to be an AARP member to apply for a UnitedHealthCare Medicare Advantage plan.
You can apply through AARP or directly through UnitedHealthCare. In either case, UnitedHealthCare has a wide range of affordable Part C plans that include Medicare Part A, B, and D coverage, plus extra benefits like discounts on hearing aids, free yearly eye exams, and $0 copays on preventative dental care. In this review, we will examine UnitedHealthcare's Medicare Advantage plans and evaluate their pros and cons for older adults.
UnitedHealthCare offers standard Medicare Advantage plan types. Like most Part C plans, you can expect to get Part A, Part B, and Part D coverage. Most plans also include some coverage for hearing, vision, and dental care. Below, we will break down all of the plan types currently available through UnitedHealthCare:
As with a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan from any provider, UnitedHealthCare requires you to get most of your non-emergency care within a network of doctors and hospitals. An HMO plan also requires you to choose a primary care physician. While most of the provider's HMOs include Part D and extra benefits, they do not provide health coverage for non-emergency treatments outside of your network. An HMO plan is best for seniors who travel infrequently and do not mind being limited to a preset network of healthcare providers.
HMO Point-of-Service (POS) is a variation of the traditional HMO plan that provides some out-of-network coverage. While you can use your plan to cover many non-emergency treatments outside of your current network, you will pay more than you would if you got the same treatments within your network.
Did You Know? UnitedHealthCare's HMO-POS plans do not require you to choose a primary care physician.
Like UnitedHealthCare's HMO plans, HMO-POS plans usually have low or no premiums, Part D coverage, and extras like dental, vision, and hearing coverage. An HMO-POS is best for older adults who want the security of knowing they still have some coverage outside of their healthcare network and benefit from many of the plan's extras.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans allow you to see any physician who accepts Medicare. Unlike HMO and HMO-POS plans, PPO does not require prior authorizations to receive treatments or see specialists. While many people assume that PPOs do not have a network, you do still have a network, albeit a very large one. Like HMOs, you will have to pay more for out-of-network treatment, but PPOs are best for seniors who like to travel and want to avoid the need for prior authorizations.
Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) is a Medicare Advantage plan with no network. Like a PPO, you can see any physician who accepts Medicare. A PFFS plan offers more freedom to choose any doctor or clinic, but it often costs two times more than a comparable HMO or PPO plan. It is important to note that UnitedHealthCare PFFS plans do not always include prescription drug coverage.
Pro Tip: If you choose a Medicare Advantage plan without Part D benefits but still want prescription coverage, visit our list of the best Medicare Part D plans.
For plans without prescription coverage, you would have to pay for a standalone Part D plan to receive coverage. PFFS plans are usually best for seniors who have low prescription drug costs and do not want to worry about dealing with a network of healthcare providers.
A Special Needs Plan (SNP) is a unique type of Medicare Advantage plan available to those who qualify based on certain healthcare requirements or financial conditions. For example, if you have a disability or your income is below a certain threshold, you may qualify for one of UnitedHealthCare's SNP plans. While these plans do have in-network and out-of-network distinctions, they provide additional coverage for disability-related treatments that most other plans do not cover.
We have already covered many of the “extras” that UnitedHealthCare offers on top of the benefits of Original Medicare. These include Part D coverage, vision, dental, hearing, and OTC credits. Many UnitedHealthCare Medicare Advantage plans also offer additional perks, including:
Just remember that all of the aforementioned benefits do not come with every UnitedHealthCare Part C plan. Access to some or all of these benefits can depend on your location. Be sure to consult with UnitedHealthCare to see which perks apply to plans available in your area before making a decision.
UnitedHealthCare Part C plan costs will vary based on many factors, from your location to the type of free copays your plan offers. Your costs can fluctuate over time based on your medical needs. We have compiled some of the most important considerations when calculating the cost of your coverage, as well as some statistics to help you gauge costs:
Did You Know? A UnitedHealthCare Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan can greatly reduce the cost of your out-of-pocket expenses. Unfortunately, you cannot combine Medigap with a Medicare Advantage plan; Medigap can only be used in tandem with Original Medicare.
UnitedHealthCare has Part C plans available in 48 states, as well as the District of Columbia. Currently, these Medicare Advantage plans are not available in Alaska or Louisiana. UnitedHealthCare boasts more than 6.5 million Part C enrollees2, making it one of the largest Medicare Advantage providers in the country. This means it is very easy for the vast majority of seniors to access a UnitedHealthCare Part C plan.
It is always a good idea to research an insurance provider before enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan. Fortunately, there are many legitimate review agencies that specialize in health insurance and Medicare Advantage providers. These agencies rank companies based on various factors, from the breadth of their plan offerings to the overall cost of their services. As you can see below, UnitedHealthCare has scored well across the board:
UnitedHealthCare's customer support center is available by phone seven days a week, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. If you don't want to wait on hold to speak to an agent, you can send a message online or schedule an in-person meeting. Regardless of the route you choose, you can find all of the relevant customer service contact information right here.
UnitedHealthCare's Medicare Advantage plans are difficult to beat. With plenty of $0 premium plans, $0 copay options, and relatively low deductibles, UnitedHealthCare can help you save on the costs of treatment. Plus, most plans come with Part D, as well as some vision, dental, and hearing coverage. That said, prices and plan availability vary widely by location, so you will need to contact a UnitedHealthCare agent or view your options online to see exactly what is available to you. UnitedHealthCare offers great Medicare Advantage plans that can also be accessed via an AARP membership, which offers its own unique benefits to older Americans.
Medicare.gov. (2022). Medicare costs at a glance.
UnitedHealthCare Newsroom. (2020). UnitedHealthcare’s 2021 Medicare Plans Bring Unique Solutions for Unique Times.