Understanding Medicare and AARP Medicare Plans
Medicare is a federal insurance program with four parts—Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. Part A and B are known as Original Medicare. AARP Medicare Supplement plans help pay for some of the costs not covered by Original Medicare.
Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, offers insurance coverage through private companies such as AARP. In order to sign up for AARP Medicare plans you must be enrolled in Original Medicare.
Part D provides prescription drug coverage. Prescription drug coverage is available to AARP members through the prescription drug plans (PDPs). AARP offers Medicare plans insured by UnitedHealthcare Company. UHC is a private insurance company that contracts through Medicare to provide coverage to beneficiaries. Below are the Medicare health insurance plan offerings through AARP.
Medicare Advantage Plans Offered through AARP
AARP Medicare Advantage plans, insured through UnitedHealthcare, include Medicare Part A (hospital stays), Medicare Part B (doctor visits) and, in most cases, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage).
Every plan has its own unique benefits. Additional plan beneﬁts may include:
- Preventive services—some plans offer a $0 copay when you visit your in-network primary care provider to receive preventive services. Below is a list of the preventive services offered through AARP Medicare Advantage:
- Disease management programs — these programs are designed to help members who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes or certain types of heart disease.
- Health management programs — these mail-based programs focus on self-care and are designed to provide members with guidelines on how to stay healthy and avoid disease.
- Alternative care services — some plans offer alternative therapies in preventing and treating disease, healing illness, and promoting health. Covered therapies include acupuncture and/or chiropractic care in some areas under some plans.
- Dental — dental coverage is now available with most Medicare Advantage plans. All plans that include a dental benefit cover exams, annual X-rays, cleanings, and fluoride for a $0 copay with in-network dentists. Many plans may also include dental coverage for fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures, and certain types of root canals.
- Vision — nearly all Medicare Advantage plans offer $0 copay annual eye exams. Many plans also offer an eyewear allowance on contacts or frames. Lenses may be covered in full, including designer-quality prescription glasses such as Warby Parker.
- OTC (over-the-counter) — this benefit will help you save 40% or more on OTC medications and products.
- Hearing — many Medicare Advantage plans offer $0 annual hearing exams and low copays on name brand and private-label hearing aids. Through UnitedHealthcare Company, AARP has a nationwide network of over 5,000 hearing provider locations and online ordering with home delivery.
- Virtual medical visits — this benefit gives you the ability to live chat with a licensed virtual provider from the comfort of home or any location. You have unlimited access to these visits for a $0 copay. Many plans also offer virtual behavioral health visits for a low or no copay.
Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
Most AARP Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) include Part D coverage. Medicare Part D, also known as a Medicare prescription plan, helps cover the cost of your medication.
All plans include brand and generic drugs, but vary in terms of which specific drugs it covers. The list of drugs a plan covers is known as its formulary. Within the formulary, there are tiers of drugs. The higher the tier, the more expensive the drug.
|Tier Type||Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4||Tier 5|
|Drug Type||Preferred Generic Drugs||Non-PreferredGeneric Drugs||Preferred Generic and Brand Drugs||Non-Preferred Generic and Brand Drugs||Specialty Drugs|
Medicare Supplement Plans through AARP
Medicare Supplement insurance plans, also known as Medigap, help pay for some of the healthcare costs not covered by Medicare Part A and Part B. These costs include coinsurance, copays, and deductibles.
In addition to covering healthcare costs, some of AARP’s supplement plans include the following benefits:
- Renew Active—through some Medicare Advantage plans, you will receive access to various gyms and fitness locations at no additional cost. And rewards for remaining physically active.
- AARP Staying Sharp– this online program includes a brain health assessment, brain exercises, recipes and activities designed to nurture a healthy brain.
- Hearing Care Program by HearUSA—through this program you receive a discount on hearing aids and access to screenings by certified HearUSA hearing care providers.
- AARP Vision Discounts provided by EyeMed—with this benefit you save on eyewear purchases and routine exam exams
- NurseLine Plan—with this benefit you receive 24/7 phone access to a registered nurse. The nurse can help answer medical questions and/or guide you to outside help if necessary. In addition to registered nurses, NurseLine also has a health information library with recorded messages on more than 1,700 health topics. This service is intended for non-emergency needs.
- Wellness coaching—with this benefit you receive access to trained coaches to reach their health and fitness goals.
- Foreign travel—some plans cover emergency care services during a portion of your trip(s) outside of the United States
To be eligible to apply for a Medicare Supplement plan, you must be an AARP member or spouse of a member, enrolled in both Part A and Part B of Medicare, and not covered under any other Medicare Supplement plans.
If you are not yet age 65, you are only eligible to apply if you do not have end-stage renal disease and then you may only apply for A, B, C, F or K, unless you are in your birthday Open Enrollment Period and replacing a Medicare Supplement plan.
You must apply within six months after enrolling in Medicare Part B or receiving notification of your retroactive eligibility for Medicare Part B, unless you are entitled to Guaranteed Issue.
What Are the Costs of AARP Medicare?
All AARP Medicare Advantage plans include the following payments:
- A monthly premium
- A deductible
- A copay
The amount of each payment varies based upon the plan you choose and your state or region. The payments associated with PDP plans depend upon the tier of the drugs as described above in the Medicare prescription drugs section.
When Can You Enroll AARP Medicare?
In order to enroll into AARP Medicare, you must:
- Be an AARP member
- Be enrolled into Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) and
To apply to be an AARP member, visit AARP.org/membership. On their site you will also find the monthly payment information and a full list of the benefits provided to members. In addition to healthcare insurance, AARP also offers car, vehicle, and property insurance, as well as a plethora of other benefits offered to members.
The second step is to be enrolled into Original Medicare. You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A once you qualify for federal retirement benefits. If you are not automatically enrolled, you will need to enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period. The initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after your birthday. If you miss this period, you can enroll during the general enrollment which runs from January 1 to March 1.
You can enroll into Medicare Part B during the same time periods. This can be the Initial Enrollment Period or the General Enrollment Period if you happen to miss the initial. In the event of a life change such as your employer or spouse health insurance ends, you will have access to a special enrollment period.
When enrolling in Medicare, you can consult an insurance agent or utilize free resources. In order to enroll, you can choose one of the three following options:
- You can apply by visiting your local Social Security office or
- Calling Medicare at 1-800-772-1213 or
- By filling out a simple application at the Social Security Administration website. Note if you have Medicare Part A and wish to add Medicare Part B, you will not be able to fill out an online form to do this. You will have to call the above number or visit your local Social Security office.
Once you are enrolled into Original Medicare, review the plans offered by AARP to determine which one(s) are the best fit for your situation. A licensed Medicare insurance agent can help you understand your options and provide you with a free personalized quote.