When you look at the price list for a Medicare Advantage plan, do you see the catch-all phrase “AARP Medicare Advantage”? If you don’t, you’re not alone. AARP is a key player in public relations and lobbying that ensures that Medicare Advantage plans are clearly defined in federal legislation and policies. In the early days of Medicare, the U.S. government’s contribution to Medicare benefits was primarily funded by an employer. This type of coverage included different types of insurance policies for business owners. However, beginning in 1965, Medicare benefits were offered as a federal entitlement for senior citizens. While this made it easier for seniors to obtain coverage, many seniors became frustrated with the differences between employer and government health insurance plans.
As a result, aARP, or the American Association of Retired Persons, launched a campaign to ensure that seniors had the same choices available to them as their employers. There were already many professional organizations supporting different components of Social Security and Medicare, but AARP wanted to create a national organization for seniors that included an endowment that made an independent decision about how the funding was spent. The program was named Medicare Advantage because it provided seniors with much more flexibility and options than government plans did. AARP supported providing free choice of providers, an open enrollment period, price competition, and the ability to save money through cost-saving innovations such as bundled services.
When there is no federal definition of what Medicare Advantage is, many states and employers use their own definitions. One problem with this is that the language used in state laws often have different meanings. For example, some states require a senior citizen to maintain a specific level of service or participation in health care as determined by law.
Another concern is that the AARP definition of Medicare Advantage does not include many of the benefits offered by private health insurance plans. If a senior citizen elects to use a Medicare Advantage plan, she can get exactly the coverage she wants at a lower cost. The AARP does not include any of the additional benefits that a business owner receives. Health insurance and health care for senior citizens are a two-way street. Today, private health insurance companies have a responsibility to stay in the game by helping seniors to receive the coverage they want and need. Yet, many businesses have found that it is cheaper to accept the government’s regulations and coverage guidelines than to try to provide quality care at a profit margin that would be acceptable to senior citizens. Sign up for AARP Medicare Advantage.
While the government and AARP are working together, some business owners are only interested in benefiting their workers, not their customers. Unfortunately, seniors are not able to shop for private health insurance plans to meet their needs and expectations. To make a proper decision, a senior citizen should look at the coverage options that are available to her with Medicare Advantage. There are certain networks that are for seniors who need access to specialists. Others will offer a wider selection of services than traditional network plans, but they may charge a higher premium.
In addition, when senior citizens are looking for health insurance coverage, they should look at the AARP’s comparison charts. These charts show the differences between private and government coverage. They also explain the other differences between plans, allowing consumers to easily choose the best plan that meets their individual needs. AARP has a long history of advocacy. With its support of seniors, a consumer can feel confident that his or her rights are protected. They understand the need for basic health care for seniors and will fight for them. Take the time to learn about Medicare Advantage and how it can help you. You may be pleasantly surprised.