AARP Medicare Advantage Review For 2024

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AARP UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans provide the same health coverage as Original Medicare, and many also cover prescription drugs, dental and vision care and over-the-counter products. Though many plans offered by AARP UnitedHealthcare come with low or $0 monthly premiums, some require that you exclusively see in-network providers. Fortunately, UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans are supported by the largest network of health care providers and hospitals among Medicare Advantage plan providers, according to the company.

Key Features

  • Low or $0 monthly premiums
  • Over 1 million in-network providers
  • Many plans cover vision and dental care, prescription drugs and gym memberships

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting older people as they age. UnitedHealthcare, a private health insurance company, has a longstanding relationship with AARP, which receives royalties for allowing the insurer to offer Medicare Advantage plans bearing the AARP name.

AARP isn’t an insurance provider and doesn’t play a role in the design or operation of its Medicare Advantage plans provided by UnitedHealthcare.

  • Plans available in 49 states, plus Washington, D.C.

  • Largest Medicare Advantage network of doctors and specialists in the U.S.

  • Many plans include coverage for prescription drugs

  • Many plans offer additional benefits, such as dental and vision care and fitness plans
  • Plans not available in Alaska

  • Benefits and features vary by location, so you may have fewer plan choices based on where you live

  • Size of provider network depends on your specific location

AARP UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Plans at a Glance

  • Plan options: Although the provider network for AARP United Healthcare Medicare Advantage plans is the largest in the country, your choice of plans or doctors may be limited depending on where you live.
  • Monthly premiums: AARP United Healthcare provides health maintenance organizations (HMO) plans and preferred provider organization (PPO) plans, many of which require low or $0 premiums. PPO plans also provide unrestricted access to out-of-network providers, but you may pay a higher monthly premium.
  • Provider network: The number of providers varies based on where you live. For example, there are 13 doctors who accept AARP Medicare Advantage PPO insurance within 10 miles of Birmingham, Alabama.

How It Works

As you approach age 65—or if you’re diagnosed with one of the few qualifying health conditions regardless of your age—you become eligible for Medicare. You must apply to receive Medicare Part A and Part B via the Social Security Administration, and once you have a Medicare number and benefits start date, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (also referred to as Medicare Part C) offered by numerous private insurance companies.

The AARP UnitedHealthcare website allows you to enter your ZIP code to view which plans are available to you in your area.

AARP UnitedHealthcare plans cover all the benefits and services provided by Original Medicare and more. “Many Medicare Advantage plans come with extra benefits, such as dental, vision, hearing, transportation, fitness and over-the-counter products,” says Steven Rukhman, an independent health insurance broker at Advanced Medicare Solutions in Los Angeles. “And many Medicare Advantage plans include a Part D prescription drug plan.”

The downside of many Medicare Advantage plans is that you can only see doctors in your plan’s network, adds Rukhman.

Consider your priorities when you compare plans. If you want to pay a low monthly premium or none at all, and you don’t mind seeing in-network doctors, then a UnitedHealthcare HMO plan might be a good choice. If having a wider choice of doctors is important to you, then you might look at PPO plans. Copays may be required for various services. It’s also important to read the details about any extra benefits, such as dental care or vision care, to make sure the services you want are included. Finally, check the names of medications you take to make sure they are covered and whether you are responsible for a copay.

When you first become eligible for Medicare, you can join a plan. Afterward, the general Medicare open enrollment period runs from October 15 through December 7 each year, during which time you can join, drop or switch plans. Your coverage will begin on January 1. If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or switch to Original Medicare (and join a separate Medicare drug plan) once between January 1 and March 31 each year during the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period.

United Healthcare will offer new AARP Medicare Advantage plans starting on October 23, 2022.

The Cost

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage monthly premiums range from $0 to $197. The majority (73%) of enrollees enroll in $0 premium plans while 16% enroll in low-premium plans (at or below $30 a month), according to an AARP UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage representative.

Although monthly premiums are low to no cost, copayments are common. “Generally there is a copay structure, with some medical and hospital services having no copays,” says Rukhman. For example, HMO plans require a referral and authorization process to see a specialist—otherwise, the cost of the visit may not be covered, he adds.

Costs and plans can vary depending on your location. In one Los Angeles ZIP code, UnitedHealthcare offers eight Medicare Advantage plans, six of which require no monthly premium. The other two plans have a monthly premium of $25.90 and $48 respectively. Out-of-pocket maximums (after which UnitedHealthcare pays the cost of plan-covered services for the rest of the year) range from $800 to $4,900.

Meanwhile, in a Boston area ZIP code, UnitedHealthcare offers five Medicare Advantage plans, three of which have no monthly premium and two of which have premiums of $43 and $53. Out-of-pocket maximums range from $4,500 to $7,550 across the five plans.

When you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, you must still pay the Medicare Part B monthly premium, which costs $164.90 in 2023. This cost is typically deducted from your monthly Social Security payment. 

The Fine Print

“Medicare Advantage plans can change every year, so I advise [people] to review and compare benefits yearly,” says Rukhman. Furthermore, it’s important to read the fine print of each plan. Dental coverage may refer only to cleanings or it may be more comprehensive. Meanwhile, prescription drugs fall into categories that are covered differently, so make sure your specific medications are covered under the plan you choose.

And remember that insurance companies managing Medicare Advantage plans may delay or deny services, such as MRIs or inpatient rehabilitation after an injury, even when those services fall under Medicare coverage rules. According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General: “Annual audits of MAOs (Medicare Advantage organizations) have highlighted widespread and persistent problems related to inappropriate denials of services and payment.”

What Experts Say

AARP UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans are similar to those offered by other major health insurance companies. “Many Medicare Advantage plans are comparable,” says Rukhman.

“I review plans and their benefits. In many cases, when you compare plan offerings closely, you will not notice much difference. Of course, the extra benefits can vary, with some plans offering more dental coverage or over-the-counter products, but less allowance for a pair of glasses. Comparing these benefits, along with prescription drug coverage, is how beneficiaries can really customize their Medicare plan,” explains Rukhman.

Confused About Medicare Advantage Insurance Options?

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On Medicare Enrollment's Website

HealthCompare Insurance Services does not offer every plan available in your area. Currently it represents 18 organizations, which offers 52,101 products in your area. Please contact, 1-800-MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to get information on all of your options.

HealthCompare Insurance Services represents Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, and PFFS organizations and stand-alone PDP prescription drug plans that are contracted with Medicare. Enrollment depends on the plan’s contract renewal. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is AARP Medicare Advantage the same as Medicare?

No. AARP UnitedHealthcare Medical Advantage plans are provided by private health insurance company UnitedHealthcare. Medicare Advantage plans must follow the rules of Original Medicare provided by the government.

Is AARP Medicare considered an Advantage plan?

AARP partnered with UnitedHealthcare to allow its name to be used in association with UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage health insurance plans.

What are the downsides of a Medicare Advantage plan?

With many Medicare Advantage plans, you can only see doctors in your plan’s network. Furthermore, insurance companies that manage Medicare Advantage plans can deny claims for some expenses that they deem too expensive or unnecessary, such as imaging tests, even when they fall under Medicare coverage rules.



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