AARP Medicare Advantage Plans – Get More Value For Each Medicare Dollar

If you are retiring or near retiring age, you must consider AARP medicare advantage plans. Read more to know about how you can make your insurance spending worth it.

AARP aims to enrich people’s lives as they get older, offering benefits like travel and restaurant discounts and advice on health and retirement. The group also partnered with UnitedHealthcare to provide medicare advantage plans to people who are eligible for Medicare.

Medicare Advantage (also called Medicare Part C) plans are all-in-one plans that combine the coverage of Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) with extra benefits you can not get from Medicare alone. Most plans also include Part D prescription drug coverage and may offer additional benefits such as dental, vision, hearing, and fitness. You may get these plans without an additional premium charge.

In Medicare Advantage plans, consumers usually pay a small amount, or a copayment, when visiting the doctor. In most Medicare Advantage plans, consumers can only go to the doctors, specialists, and hospitals on the plan’s list. Otherwise, he or she may pay more, or you may not be covered for services at all. However, if you need urgent or emergency care, your Medicare Advantage will pay for the services you receive.

Many private insurance companies provide these plans. However, UnitedHealthcare is an exclusive insurer of Medicare Advantage Plans. It offers several benefits not available in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), such as preventive dental care, vision care, and hearing exams. UnitedHealthcare, which insures AARP Medicare Advantage plans, offers the largest Medicare Advantage network of all companies, with more than 1 million network care providers.

AARP Medicare Advantage Plans by UnitedHealthcare design the policies that help customers make most of their health care spending. The plans’ services vary by service area, many of these plans offer medical and non-medical benefits that enable senior citizens to save.

AARP Medicare Advantage Plans offer the best coverages for aged people and those who have any kind of disability. If you are retiring or near retiring age, you must proceed with this article to know how this plan works and make your health care spending worthwhile.

What is medicare advantage plan?

Medicare Advantage (also called Medicare Part C) plans are all-in-one plans that combine the coverage of Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) with extra benefits you can not get from Medicare alone. Most also include Part D prescription drug coverage and may also offer additional benefits such as dental, vision, hearing, and fitness. These services do not include an additional premium.

Medicare Advantage plans operate within defined geographic areas called service areas. You must live in a plan’s service area to become a plan member, and a plan’s coverage and costs can vary by plan and location. Moreover, some plans might not have network providers. Out-of-pocket expenses also vary due to the nature of the plan.

What do medicare advantage (Part C) plans cover?

It is important for a consumer to know what medicare advantage plans cover. All plans cover the following:

  • All the benefits of Part A
  • All the benefits of Part B

Most Part C plans cover the following:

  • Prescription drugs

Additional Benefits Medicare Advantage Plans May Offer:

  • Dental exams, cleanings, and X-rays
  • Eye exams, eyeglasses, and corrective lenses
  • Hearing tests and hearing aids
  • Wellness programs and fitness memberships
  • Other extra benefits such as transportation to medical appointments and virtual provider visits

Providers / carriers of medicare advantage plans

When enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, you may find different options available to you. Different private insurance companies offer aarp medicare advantage plans and often design different benefits depending on the plan you choose. Below we will discuss the best carriers of  Medicare Advantage plans, as well as how they stack up against one another.

Kaiser permanente

Kaiser Permanente’s 5-star rating on medicare.gov is an outstanding highlight, making Medicare Advantage Plans an excellent choice for those who live in the company’s service areas.

Kaiser Permanente’s Medicare Advantage plans are good for those who are willing to pay for a more expensive plan in order to get affordable medical care and good benefits. In general, enrollees will spend less on health services while having the predictable, however more expensive, monthly cost of the Medicare Advantage Plans.

Even though a typical policy at Kaiser Permanente costs more than $50 per month, many plans have a $0 deductible so consumers can get the cost-sharing benefits as soon as they enroll. The co-payments for medical care are also affordable, and with available reviewed sample plans, a doctor visit could cost $15, an X-ray could cost $25 and a trip to the emergency room could cost $90.

Kaiser’s medicare advantage plans have a limited network of providers because it pairs the medicare plans with its medical centers and hospitals. This can be a helpful way for consumers to streamline their care because they can manage health records and insurance coverage through the same online portal.

The downside with purchasing the plan from Kaiser is you will have fewer options to go for medical care. Even though enrollees still have broad coverage during emergencies or when outside of the service area, these plans are not a good fit for those who prefer a wide network of health care providers. In particular, those who need specialized medical care should check that the in-network providers can meet their health needs.

Unitedhealthcare (UHC)

UnitedHealthcare is the most popular Medicare Advantage Plans provider with many enrollees valuing its combination of good ratings, affordable premiums, and add-on benefits. AARP medicare advantage plans by UnitedHealthcare offer good benefits at an affordable price. Although it comes as the second-highest position ranking wise on medicare.gov, consumers still like it as its average cost comes to about $21/month.

UHC administers AARP Medicare Advantage Plans. It offers admirable benefits with a wide network of providers. The company emerged for its broad range of add-on programs and discounts including vision, dental, free gym memberships, mental fitness, and credit toward over-the-counter products. These programs can be especially useful for those who want to stay healthy on a budget.

Aetna

Aetna is known for providing the cheapest Medicare Advantage HMO plans with add-on benefits. The current cost of the plans is $7 per month. Aetna’s Medicare Advantage plans are feasible for those who are looking for affordable coverage.

Most plans are available for $0, which means you do not have to pay anything on top of your monthly cost for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). Moreover, there are several Aetna plans with no or low deductibles, helping you avoid large medical expenses early in the policy year.

These plans usually include coverages such as dental, visual, hearing, prescription drugs, SilverSneakers, caregiver support, and over-the-counter products.

Bluecross blueshield

BlueCross BlueSheild (BCBS) has one of the largest provider networks, which makes it a good fit for those who seek flexible options of health care services and doctors. However, its in-network providers vary with Medicare Advantage Plans. The company has many subsidiaries to provide medicare advantage plans, and each subsidiary gets managed separately. The average cost of BCBS plans comes to about $42 per month.

Humana

Humana has flexible medicare advantage plans for those consumers who mail-order prescription drugs. It ranks higher in terms of customer satisfaction. Generally, Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans usually have good prescription drug benefits. About 28% of plans have no drug deductible while only costing an average of $19 per month.

Humana is a large Medicare Advantage provider with popular plans and a wide variety of options. The range of plan options is a big advantage for those who are looking for the right balance between coverage and cost. For example, you can choose a cheap HMO plan such as the Humana Gold Plus, which has low monthly costs.

However, coverage with a cheap plan won’t be as good as coverage with one of Humana’s more expensive plans that have better benefits and a wider selection of medical providers.

AARP unitedhealthcare medicare advantage plans 2021

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans are the only plans with the AARP name that gives you more for your Medicare dollar, offering benefits and services beyond Original Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage plans include coverage for prescription drugs.

UnitedHealthcare offers Medicare Advantage Plans that combine the benefits offered by Medicare Part A and Part B (also called Original Medicare) into one simple plan. Many Medicare Advantage plans (also called Medicare Part C) offer additional benefits that Medicare Part A and Part B do not cover. These additional benefits can include:

  • Coverage for prescription drugs
  • Vision care
  • Hearing care
  • Fitness and wellness programs

Before you enroll in AARP Medicare Advantage Plans through UnitedHealthcare, you must review each type of plan to know about its benefits, costs, and services. To serve this purpose for you, here is a brief overview of UnitedHealthcare medicare advantage plans.

Health maintenance organization (HMO)

United Healthcare HMO plans to give you access to a local network of doctors and hospitals, including a primary care provider to help coordinate your unique health care needs. You will need to get care from doctors and providers in the network and you select a primary care provider to help coordinate your care.

If you use a provider that is not in the national network, you may have to pay for the service yourself. Many plans include UnitedHealthcare Passport, which gives you the network costs and benefits of your plan when you travel. Most HMO plans have a low or $0 monthly premium.

HMO-POS (Point of Service) plans grant you access to a local network of doctors and hospitals, including a primary care provider to coordinate your care. Further, you can see out-of-network doctors and providers for certain covered services. Many United Healthcare HMO plans also give you access to care across the country at network costs using the UnitedHealthcare Medicare National Network, the nation’s largest network of top doctors and specialists.

Preferred provider organization (PPO)

UnitedHealthcare PPO plan allows you to see any doctor nationwide that accepts Medicare, without referrals for specialists and hospitals. However, in most cases, your out-of-pocket expenses may increase if you see a provider outside of the plan network.

Private-fee-for-service (PFFS) plans

A PFFS plan does not have a network. It gives you the freedom to see any Medicare-approved doctor that accepts the plan’s terms. If a PFFS plan does not include drug coverage, you can purchase a separate, independent prescription drug plan. Medicare Advantage PFFS plans still cover the same care covered by original Medicare. They also offer extra benefits as a fragment of the Part C plan, though these vary from plan to plan.

UnitedHealthcare special needs plans (SNP)

These are the special AARP Medicare Advantage Plans offered by UnitedHealthcare, which offer additional benefits to people who qualify for special healthcare and financial needs. All SNPs include prescription drug (Part D) coverage as well.

UnitedHealthcare offers several different types of Medicare SNP plans:

  • Dual Eligible Plans: These plans facilitate those people who get both Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Institutional Plans: These plans support Medicare beneficiaries who live in skilled nursing facilities.
  • Institutional-Equivalent Plans: These plans are for those Medicare beneficiaries who live in assisted living communities and need the same types of care as people who live in skilled nursing facilities.
  • Chronic Condition Plans: These plans help support Medicare beneficiaries who have certain severe or disabling chronic conditions.

To make it more understandable, let’s break it down in a table for you to choose the best plan.

HMO & HMO_POS PPO PFFS SNP
Shrunk network of providers Yes Yes No Yes
Must choose primary care provider from plan network Yes No No Yes
Must use doctors and providers within the plan network for covered services HMO – Yes

 

 

 

HMO-POS – No, but costs more out-of-network,

No, but costs more out-of-network No Yes
Referral required to see a specialist Varies by plan No No Yes
May include drug coverage Yes Yes Yes All includes drug coverage

When consumers opt for AARP Medicare Advantage Plan, they receive several benefits that help them seek the full health service as written in the insurance policy. To help you choose the right plan, next, you will see the brief details of the medical and non-medical benefits of the Part C plan.

Medical benefits under AARP medicare advantage plans from UnitedHealthcare

While AARP Medicare Advantage Plans from UnitedHealthcare come in a variety of forms, most of them offer prescription drug coverage. Additionally, many AARP United Healthcare Medicare Advantage Plans offer the following medical benefits:

  • $0 copays for in-network primary care provider visits
  • $0 copay for many lab tests
  • $0 prescription drug copays for most common prescription medications
  • $0 copay to speak to an in-network healthcare provider using 24/7 telehealth services.

These benefits are not available in all plans. The customer must check the specific plan details of the policies in your region using the official AARP website for Medicare plans.

Non-medical benefits under AARP medicare advantage plans from unitedhealthcare

The number of enrollment in the AARP medicare advantage plan multiplied in the past decade. The non-medical benefits that AARP Medicare Advantage Plans from UnitedHealthcare offer are to promote overall health. According to the AARP website, most AARP Medicare Advantage plans include non-medical benefits:

  • Fitness Programs: Renew Active is a free fitness program designed to help you stay active through the gym and home activities.
  • Dental Benefits: $0 copays for in-network exams, yearly x-rays, and routine cleanings. Many plans also offer coverage for fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures, and certain kinds of root canals.
  • Vision Benefits: $0 copays for routine eye exams and eyewear allowances for contact lenses or frames, with full coverage for standard lenses.
  • Hearing Benefits: $0 copays for regular hearing assessments, plus savings on name brand and UnitedHealthcare exclusive hearing aids.

The social determinants of health play a significant role in health outcomes. By offering innovative non-medical benefits that eliminate barriers, Medicare Advantage plans are doing their part to help members lead healthier lives.

Eligibility criteria of unitedhealthcare medical advantage plan

UnitedHealthcare provides AARP Medicare Advantage Plans for US citizens aged more than 65 years old or those who have any kind of disability. However, you do not qualify for the plan automatically, there are some eligibility criteria to qualify.

Let’s determine if you are eligible or not.

  • You’re eligible for a Medicare Advantage plan if you have Part A and Part B. Even those under 65 on disability may enroll!
  • Further, you must live in the plan’s service area and continue to pay your Part B premiums. You will pay the Medicare Advantage plan’s premium if it applies in addition to your Part B premium.
  • Low-income or Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries may qualify for extra help paying premiums, deductibles, and copayments.

Additionally, you must do a few things to be eligible for Medicare Advantage Plan:

  1. Know your Part A and B effective date
  2. Have your Medicare card number
  3. Live in the plan’s service area

Medicare advantage plan enrollment information

If you are new to Medicare, turning 65, retiring, moving, qualify for assistance, losing employer coverage, or have another qualifying situation, you may be eligible to enroll now. UnitedHealthcare offers a variety of Medicare Advantage plans, you must keep abreast yourself with every detail for qualifying to get one.

There are three ways to enroll in AARP / UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Plan:

  1. Online: You can enroll yourself in most plans online. Online enrollment is easy, secure, and available as per your schedule. To begin, enter your ZIP code on the website, and it will provide you with the necessary details.
  2. By mail: To enroll by mail, download and fill out the paper enrollment form, then print it and mail your completed enrollment form to UnitedHealthcare. To get UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plan enrollment forms (PDF):
  • Enter your ZIP Code on the designated page of the website and click the “Find plans” button.
  • On the next page, you will see a list of plan types. If there are Medicare Advantage plans available in your area, you will see a number above the plan type.
  • Choose one of the available plans in your area and click on the “View plan (and drug coverage) details” link for that plan. If that plan is accepting enrollment, you will find the form you need in the Plan Documents section near the bottom of the page.
  1. Over the phone: Call UnitedHealthcare toll-free number available on the website 8 AM to 8 PM 7 days a week to speak with sales representatives who will walk you through the enrollment process.

AARP medicare complete provider phone number

To connect with UnitedHealthcare, you need to call the phone number provided on their website. They have a separate toll-free number for providers to seek any assistance they require. You can provide your tax ID for routing through the process. The general timings of operation are from 8 AM to 8 PM, Monday to Friday.

What is the highest rated medicare advantage plan

According to medicare ratings done by the government, Kaiser Permanente has the highest rated Medicare Advantage Plans to offer. It receives a 5 out of 5 rating by medicare.gov. This insurance company is the fifth largest provider of medicare advantage plans to more than 1.7 million members enrolled in 2021.

Conclusion

Medicare Advantage Plans is an alternative to Original Medicare that includes all the benefits of Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and often a few extras, such as cost help with dental and vision care. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurers, and plan availability depends on location. Besides UnitedHealthcare, private insurance companies like Atena, Humana, and Cigna also provide the best medicare advantage plans with additional benefits and services spending on the plan you choose. AARP Medicare Advantage plans are a popular option for people who are eligible for Medicare. About 4 in 10 Medicare-eligible people are in a Medicare Advantage plan. But each plan has different strengths and weaknesses.

Charles Bains

Charles Bains

Charles Bains started his insurance career as a marketing intern before pounding the pavement as a commercial lines agent in Orlando, FL. As an industry journalist, his articles have appeared in a variety of trade publications. His insurance television career, short-lived but glorious, once saw him serve as the expert adviser on an insurance-themed infomercial (yes, you read that correctly). Having recently worked for various organizations, coupled with his broader insurance knowledge, Charles is able to understand our client’s needs and guide them accordingly. He is a gem for Insurance Noon as his wide area of expertise and experience have been beneficial in conducting further researches to come up with solutions and writing them in a manner which is easy for everyone including beginners to comprehend.