AARP Can Double Costs For Seniors

The L.A. Times is reporting that AARP products are not always the best deal for senior citizens. The American Association of Retired Persons is susceptible to a profit motive; $400 million – 40%, of their annual budget – is generated from “royalties and service provider relationship management fees” gleaned from products, such as Medigap insurance, sold to its 38 million members.

There is also a reason AARP’s Medigap policies — sold to Medicare recipients to cover expenses that the federal program doesn’t pick up — aren’t the cheapest, Sohn said. AARP is a national organization and wants to offer the same product to residents of every state. But providing health insurance is more costly in some states than in others. These products are regulated on a state-by-state basis, which makes operating in some places considerably more expensive than in others. Because the organization offers the same product everywhere at the same price, policyholders in low-cost states essentially subsidize those in high-cost states.

And with long-term-care insurance and term life insurance, AARP offers group plans that allow members to enroll at a reasonable price, even if they’re not in the best of health, Sohn said.

The flip side: People who are in great shape can find far less costly products. They’ll be required to get a physical exam to prove their good health, but it’s probably worth it. AARP life insurance policies can be more than twice the cost of policies you can find elsewhere, Tignanelli said.

The Association’s competitive price match policy does represent a good deal for seniors in the market for electronics or consumer goods.

Though AARP’s medical and financial products may cost more for some seniors, to others, they represent an otherwise unattainable deal. The only way to know for sure if you can get a better price is to shop around.

AARP not always best deal for seniors [L.A. Times]
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)