Issues & Insights

Could Trump Executive Order Eliminate AARP’s Sweetheart Deal?

While President Donald Trump admits his announced executive order on pre-existing conditions amounts to “signaling,” behind the scenes, some conservatives are urging the administration to explore the possibility of going one step further by eliminating a crony Obama-era giveaway to AARP. 

For context, look to the unholy alliance between AARP and the insurance giant UnitedHealthGroup. Its mission has apparently been to rake in profits on the backs of the American seniors it claims to “serve.” In fact, AARP has been hit with lawsuits for allegedly receiving an “illegal kickback” in its sales of Medigap plans for America’s seniors – plans exclusively provided by UnitedHealth, but sold with “AARP” branding.

A new report by Juniper Research’s Chris Jacobs examines the extent to which AARP has pulled this scam on seniors and the group’s backroom dealings around ObamaCare:

The sordid history of AARP’s dealings in Washington — the backroom deals its lucrative Medigap coverage received in ObamaCare, the way in which AARP ‘forgot’ to lobby for pre-existing condition changes in Medigap as part of ObamaCare, and the secretive way in which AARP lobbied to kill Medigap reform without informing lawmakers of its financial conflicts — demonstrate how its revenue sources have compromised the integrity of its policy positions.”

The Medigap coverage that AARP sells to seniors (while denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions) has been a cash cow for the organization. Its marketing revenue has shot up annually since 2001. And in 2018, this revenue amounted to more than twice what it made from flatlining membership dues.

And what is it doing with all of this money? It’s spent millions annually on leftist lobbying campaigns while failing to properly disclose financial ties, says Jacobs:

In 2012, Bill Novelli, AARP’s CEO from 2001 through 2009, said that ‘it’s fair to say that AARP does have a financial interest in Medigap insurance because it’s a significant revenue raiser for them. If Medigap were somehow reduced, then AARP would have a financial reduction.’

That financial conflict played out in 2011, when AARP secretly lobbied against changes to Medigap insurance — without disclosing its financial conflicts to Congress.

Clearly, these carveouts protect its crony regime at the expense of its dwindling member base. So if seniors are canceling AARP over its actions, why should it continue to receive a special carveout from ObamaCare? 

To quote from Jacobs’ report:

While AARP claims that ObamaCare ended ‘discrimination’ against individuals with pre-existing conditions, the organization somehow forgot to ensure that the law’s package of insurance changes — including a ban on denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions — applied to its lucrative Medigap policies. As a result, some seniors and AARP members with pre-existing conditions often cannot obtain access to AARP-branded Medigap policies, because the organization has put protecting its prime source of revenue over the principles to which it purportedly adheres.

Trump has proposed an executive order mandating coverage of pre-existing conditions. Is it possible it could be used to put AARP’s sweetheart deal in peril? AARP and its puppet master UnitedHealth should play by the same rules as everyone else.  

Nathan Williamson is a conservative activist and writer. His op-eds have been featured in publications including the Washington Examiner and RealClearMarkets.

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  • I had my father all set up with good insurance. Unbeknownst to me, while he was at the Senior Center, AARP showed up and sold everybody some very worthless gap insurance. He signed up without even knowing what he was signing for. And then he got sick. I went through 3 years of fighting with these bastards to just try and cover his medical bills. AARP is twisted evil. They don’t give a crap about anything but their bottom line and their leftist political agenda. They will never get a dime from me, but I must get 10 mailings a month from them trying to sign me up. Sometimes I stuff everything into the postage paid return envelope and mail it back, just so they will have to pay for it.

  • What does a Medicare Supplement have to do with Obamacare/ I’m no big fan of UHC but this is comparing apples and oranges. UHC’s Medicare Supplement offerings are no different than any of the other Medicare Supplement offerings.

    • Do you honestly not know? Obamacare was all about getting coverage for those with existing conditions. As a sop to those who helped them AARP was allowed to sell insurance without covering those pre existing conditions. Exactly the opposite of what Obamacare was supposed to be all about. It is a scam. They make money off of those unable to understand what they are getting into. They make money for themselves. If you truly believed in Obamacare you would be against the AARP scam on insurance.

      If you know and are faking not knowing, this is what you get when something is “To good to be true.” A scam. That you knew all along was a scam.

    • It’s the difference between Medicare’s supplemental coverage to their existing Plan A and Plan B, versus UHC’s Medigap version which rolls everything under a single policy.

      For example: I have the Medicare Plan A and Plan B. I enrolled in the Plan D (drugs) and have also taken out a Plan G to cover what Plans A and B do not. A and B are through Medicare; D and G are through private carriers but coverage is mandated by Medicare. The key here is that no matter which private company issues the Plan D or Plan G (or F or H or N or any of the others), the coverages are identical by law. That’s the Medicare Supplement program.

      What UHC (and others) offer – Medigap – is taking all of those, and managing them all through a single private company, in this case UHC. They might also throw in options for dental insurance, or vision care – neither of which are available through Medicare – and they might even offer benefits beyond what Medicare mandates. I think they have to meet the Medicare minimum requirements, but they are not limited to them.

      Under my Medicare supplemental programs, my Plan A is paid for, and my Plan B cost is deducted from my Social Security. I write a check every month to the companies providing my Plan D and Plan G. I also take out my own vision care and dental care plans, and write checks for those.

      Under UHC Medigap, they get the Plan B money from Medicare, and charge you for the rest of what they are providing to you. I am dealing with Medicare plus four private companies; under the UHC Medigap you are only dealing with one company.

  • I have never joined AARP since one of it’s missions is to BAN GUNS. And now that the anarcho/communists are bent on “defunding the police” there has NEVER been a time when everyone, including seniors, need a reliable semi-auto with a STANDARD (30-100round) magazine. If you ever joined that leftist front, cancel your membership NOW!

  • I never ever joined AARP especially after learning they campaigned for ObamaCare and were assured they’d make money scamming seniors. They scammed lots of unknowing senior out of money with their MediGap supplemental insurance.
    I forgot where I found out about “AMAC” the alternative to AARP and their liberal agenda, AMAC (Association of Mature American Citizens) is conservative orientated. I’ve been a member for 5 years. It’s membership is the same price as AARP without the constant push for automatic renewal. The AMAC magazine is great with in depth articles on subjects interesting and important to conservatives. It’s slowly building up discounts at many store, restaurants and travel. Thanks for the opportunity to let you know there is an alternative to AARP. AMAC lobbies for our rights and supports God, Home and Country.

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