AARP Medicare Plans Review
AARP sells certain types of Medicare plans through a partnership with UnitedHealthcare. Learn more about the types of AARP Medicare plans, what they cover and how you may be able to enroll in a plan where you live.
Millions of U.S. adults take advantage of the many benefits provided by AARP, such as the private Medicare insurance plans that AARP offers through its partnership with UnitedHealthcare.
Below is a review of AARP Medicare plans including the types of plans available, their benefits and how to enroll.
AARP not only provides private Medicare plans in partnership with UnitedHealthcare, but the organization can actually be credited helping lay some of the early groundwork for Medicare.
In 1958, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus formed AARP in part to extend group health insurance to all retired persons. Seven years later, the idea of a centralized health insurance policy for retired Americans took its next big step with the creation of Medicare.
Today, nearly 38 million people belong to AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), a nonprofit organization that works to address the needs and interests of people 50 and older.
UnitedHealthcare works with over 1.2 million doctors and health care providers and 6,500 hospitals and facilities across the nation.1
Thanks to its partnership with UnitedHealthcare, AARP benefits from having a nationwide insurance market with Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance (also called Medigap) plans offered across the country.
UnitedHealthcare accounts for the largest percentage of Medicare Advantage enrollment of any insurance company in the U.S.
No matter where you live, you are likely to find an AARP Medicare plan from UnitedHealthcare available for purchase, though not all plans are available in all locations.
A Medicare Advantage plan provides an alternative way to receive Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) benefits. AARP provides Medicare Advantage plans through UnitedHealthcare, all of which cover everything you’ll find in Medicare Part A and Part B.
These plans can then go above and beyond Original Medicare coverage to bring additional benefits not found in either Medicare Part A or Part B.
Some of the features you might find in an AARP Medicare Advantage plan from UnitedHealthcare include:
- Dental benefits that include exams, X-rays and cleanings. Some plans will even cover more advanced care such as fillings, dentures and more.
- Vision coverage that includes eye exams and extends to eyeglasses and contact lenses.
- Coverage for hearing exams and name-brand hearing aids.
- Telehealth (telemedicine), which allows you to consult with medical professionals from the safety and convenience of your own home.
- FirstLine, which is a program that allows plan members to save money on over-the-counter (OTC) medications and products for in-store or home delivery purchases. These can include things like cold medicine, vitamins and even healthy food options.
- Memberships to SilverSneakers or Renew Active, which are fitness programs designed specifically for older adults and offered at gyms and community centers all over the U.S.
- $0 copays on primary care provider visits, lab tests and most generic prescription drugs.
- $0 monthly premiums.
AARP Medicare Advantage plans can come in different forms, though each type of plan may not be available where you live.
- An HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plan typically requires you to choose a primary care physician who coordinates your health care within a network of participating providers. You’re typically restricted to seeing doctors and providers within the plan network except for in cases where emergency care is needed.
- A PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) can give you more freedom to seek out health care from outside of the plan’s network, and you typically do not need to go through a primary care physician in order to see a specialist. You may pay higher out-of-pocket costs when you visit doctor’s outside of your plan network, however, and you may be able to save money when you visit in-network providers.
- Special Needs Plans (SNPs) are designed to address the specific health care needs of people with certain medical conditions or who are dual-eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.
Because not every type of plan is available in all locations, it’s important that you find out exactly what plans are available where you live if you’re shopping for plans.
Aside from joining a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage, Medicare beneficiaries can also get prescription drug coverage by enrolling in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan (PDP). These plans can cover a wide range of generic and brand-name medications.
AARP offers a number of different Part D plans nationwide, though plan costs, coverage and features can differ according to location. Many plans offer increased savings if you fill your prescription within the plan’s preferred network of pharmacies. And many of AARP’s Part D plans even include mail order service which allows you to get up to a 90 day supply of medications delivered right to your doorstep.
You can use the AARP Locate a Pharmacy tool to find out whether or not your local pharmacy is part of the UnitedHealthcare AARP Part D plan network.
AARP MedicareRx Preferred (PDP)
This Part D plan from AARP comes with a weighted average monthly premium of $89 in 2021. Over 10% of all Medicare Part D beneficiaries are enrolled in the AARP MedicareRX Preferred plan in 2021.2
AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus (PDP)
The MedicareRx Saver Plus plan covers most generic and commonly used brand name drugs, and it features a weighted average monthly premium of $33 in 2021. The median copay for preferred generic drugs is $1, and the median copay for other generic drugs is $6 in 2021.2
AARP MedicareRx Walgreens (PDP)
This plan features a partnership with preferred Walgreens pharmacies across the nation and features a weighted average monthly premium of $35 per month. With this plan, you typically pay a $0 deductible and $0 copay for preferred generic drugs.2
Medicare Supplement Insurance, or “Medigap,” is a type of private Medicare insurance that is used to supplement Original Medicare coverage. Medigap policies help pick up the cost of deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and other out-of-pocket expenses that are required by Medicare Part A and Part B.
Medicare Supplement plans are accepted by any doctor, hospital, facility or provider who accepts Medicare. This means that you can keep your doctor and have coverage when you travel within the U.S.
While the cost and selection of Medigap plans will typically vary from one location or carrier to the next, the benefits of each type of plan are standardized by the federal government. There are 10 standardized Medicare Supplement Insurance plans available in most states, and AARP sells all but one of them.
The chart below shows the complete benefits of each type of standardized Medicare
|Medicare Supplement Benefits||A||B||C1||D||F1||G||K||L||M||N|
|Part A coinsurance and hospital costs||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Part B coinsurance or copayment||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||75%||✓||✓|
|First 3 pints of blood||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||75%||✓||✓|
|Part A hospice care co-insurance or co-payment||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||75%||✓||✓|
|Co-insurance for skilled nursing facility||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||75%||✓||✓|
|Medicare Part A deductible||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||75%||50%||✓|
|Medicare Part B deductible||✓||✓|
|Medicare Part B excess charges||✓||✓|
|Foreign travel emergency||80%||80%||80%||80%||80%||80%|
|1. Plans C and F are not available to new beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020.
2. Plans F and G also offer a high deductible plan which has an annual deductible of $2,370 in 2021. Once the annual deductible is met, the plan pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the year. The high deductible Plan F is not available to new beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020.
3. Plan K has an out-of-pocket yearly limit of $6,220 in 2021. Plan L has an out-of-pocket yearly limit of $3,110 in 2021.
4. Plan N pays 100% of the Part B coinsurance, except for a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and up to $50 for emergency room visits that don’t result in an inpatient admission.
View an image version of this table.
AARP Medicare Supplement Plan F
Medigap Plan F is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan most likely because offers the most benefits of any available plan. Members of Plan F face little to no out-of-pocket Medicare expenses for their health care.
Federal legislation has made Plan F off-limits to anyone who became eligible for Medicare on January 1, 2020 or later. This means that if you became eligible for Medicare before 2020, you may still be able to apply for Plan F if it’s available where you live, and if you had Plan F before 2020, you can keep your plan. If you became eligible for Medicare after Jan. 1, 2020, however, you won’t be able to purchase Plan F or Plan C, which is outlined below.
AARP Medicare Supplement Plan C
Plan C includes all of the same coverage as Plan F except for Medicare Part B excess charges, which occur when certain health care providers are allowed to charge up to 15% more than the Medicare-approved amount for their services or items. If you make sure to visit providers who accept Medicare assignment (which means they accept Medicare reimbursement as payment in full), then you can typically avoid Medicare excess charges.
Like Plan F, Plan C is also only available to beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare prior to Jan. 1, 2020.
AARP Medicare Supplement Plan G
Plan G is also highly popular among Medicare beneficiaries and will only continue to grow in popularity, as the share of people eligible for Plan F will go down over time.
Plan G includes all of the same benefits as Plan F with the only exception being coverage for the Medicare Part B deductible. In 2021, the annual Part B deductible is $203. This means that once you meet your Part B deductible for the year and if you have Plan G, you will typically face little or no out-of-pocket Medicare costs for the remainder of the year (other than your Plan G premium and your Medicare Part B monthly premium).
Additional AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans
In addition to the three plans highlighted above, AARP also offers Plan A, B, D, K, L and N. The only Medigap plan not sold by AARP is Plan M. Not every plan will necessarily be available in every location, so be sure to compare the AARP Medicare Supplement plans that are available where you live.
Every year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) evaluates Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D based on a 5-star rating system. For 2021, UnitedHealthcare received an overall rating of 3.5 stars from Medicare.
Because AARP Medicare plans operate under the UnitedHealthcare brand, members enjoy access to one of the largest nationwide networks of doctors, pharmacies and other health care providers. You can use the UHC Find a Doctor tool to find out if your doctor, pharmacy, dentist or vision care provider will accept an AARP Medicare plan.
Does AARP Medicare Cover Vision?
It’s typical for Medicare Advantage plans to cover vision care including eye exams, prescription eyeglasses (including designer frames) and contact lenses. Many AARP Medicare Advantage plans include vision benefits at no extra cost.
Does AARP Medicare Cover Dental?
Like vision, dental benefits are often included in Medicare Advantage plans and can be found in many of AARP’s plans as well. These hearing benefits can often include routine teeth exams, teeth cleanings, X-rays, fillings, dentures and more.
You can visit the Medicare.UHC.com website to create your AARP Medicare account and gain access to various tools and resources designed to manage your health, such as finding a health care provider or getting answers to your questions from a UnitedHealthcare Customer Service Advocate.
1 UnitedHealthcare. About UnitedHealthcare. Retrieved March 2021 from https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com/about-us.html.
2 Cubanski J., Damico A. (Oct. 29, 2020). Medicare Part D: A First Look at Medicare Prescription Drug Plans in 2021. Kaiser Family Foundation. www.kff.org/report-section/medicare-part-d-a-first-look-at-medicare-prescription-drug-plans-in-2021-tables.