Medicare

AARP Medicare Supplement Review: Compare Costs and Policies

AARP Medicare Supplement Review: Compare Costs and Policies

Editor's Rating

Popular plans are a good way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for health care.

Good for

  • Those who want the security of an AARP endorsement.
  • Those who want benefits for vision, dental and more.
  • Those who want plans with discounted rates for in-network coverage.

Bad for

  • Those who prefer top-tier customer service.
  • Those who don't want to become AARP members.
{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Apply Now","category":"life_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/aarpmedicare-1","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":" in context: Review Header","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/www.aarpmedicareplans.com\/","name":"UnitedHealthcare\/AARP "}

Find Cheap Medicare Plans in Your Area

Currently insured?

Editor's Rating

Popular plans are a good way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for health care.

Good for

  • Those who want the security of an AARP endorsement.
  • Those who want benefits for vision, dental and more.
  • Those who want plans with discounted rates for in-network coverage.

Bad for

  • Those who prefer top-tier customer service.
  • Those who don't want to become AARP members.
{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Apply Now","category":"life_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/aarpmedicare-1","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":" in context: Review Header","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/www.aarpmedicareplans.com\/","name":"UnitedHealthcare\/AARP "}

AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance provides strong coverage at a good value. Average costs are variable, and in addition to the standard benefits, plans provide discounted access to vision care, dental, hearing, fitness and more.

Our thoughts: Why we recommend AARP Medicare Supplement

Medicare Supplement Insurance (also called Medigap) plans from AARP/UnitedHealthcare are a good choice for most people. The customer service rating is not as strong as that of some other companies. However, the wide range of policy selections makes it easy to choose the best plan for you, and the AARP endorsement can give you peace of mind.

They're some of the best Medicare Supplement plans available, and they're also the most popular plans, with about 32% of Medicare Supplement subscribers having an AARP/UnitedHealthcare plan.

Insurance policyholders must be AARP members, and you can join during your insurance application if you're not already a member. Membership costs are minimal at only $16 per year.

Costs for AARP Medigap insurance vary widely, ranging from about $60 to $300 per month. Getting a price quote based on your situation can help you understand if an AARP policy is the best deal for you.

Despite the large price differences, AARP Medicare Supplement plans are usually a good value. For example, a 65-year-old may pay slightly more for an AARP Medigap plan, but the slower age-based price increases could mean they'll have the cheapest plan when they're in their 80s and 90s. This reduces the total lifetime spending.

For those who want a discount on insurance, AARP Medigap offers low-cost alternatives that limit some coverage to in-network facilities and providers. These plans could save you $200 to $250 per year on your insurance costs, and with UnitedHealthcare's large network of providers, you may not see a meaningful impact on health care access.

How do AARP Medicare Supplement plans work?

When you buy an AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, you’re actually getting a policy from UnitedHealthcare. As part of the business agreement, AARP endorses and does marketing for select UnitedHealthcare plans, and in turn, AARP gets an estimated 4.95% fee for each plan sold.

Medigap policies give you additional benefits on top of Original Medicare (Parts A and B). These supplemental plans can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses by covering deductibles, coinsurance or other medical expenses. The level of coverage will depend on the plan you select.

For example, if the cost of a doctor's visit is $200, Medicare Part B could pay $100 of the bill. Then through a crossover billing practice, your AARP Medigap plan could pay an additional $75 of the bill. Then, you'll be responsible for any remaining cost, only paying $25 for the $200 doctor's visit.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EFor example, if the cost of a doctor's visit is $200, Medicare Part B could pay $100 of the bill. Then through a crossover billing practice, your AARP Medigap plan could pay an additional $75 of the bill. Then, you'll be responsible for any remaining cost, only paying $25 for the $200 doctor's visit. \n","padding":"double"}

What type of coverage can you get?

The benefits of Medicare Supplement plans are standardized across all companies. This means a Plan G from AARP will offer the same health care benefits as a Plan G from another company. This standardization makes it easy to compare plans, and the Medigap coverage chart from Medicare.gov can help you select the right plan for your needs.

You can sign up for a Medigap policy when you first become eligible for Medicare or during open enrollment. AARP/UnitedHealthcare offers all available Medigap plan letters. However, available plans may vary by location and Medicare qualification date.

  • What it covers: All Medigap plans cover some portion of out-of-pocket costs (deductibles and coinsurance) for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance).
  • What it doesn’t cover: A supplemental plan will not cover prescription drugs. For that, you’ll need a separate Medicare Part D plan, and AARP/UnitedHealthcare ranks as the easiest-to-use Medicare Part D provider.

What unique features do AARP Medigap plans have?

Even though the major medical benefits of AARP plans will be the same as those offered by other insurance companies, AARP Medigap plans offer access to additional programs, adding significant value. AARP Medigap subscribers also get:

  • Vision: Discounted eye exams, glasses and contacts (AARP Vision Discount).
  • Dental: Discounted rate of 30%-40% on select services through Dentegra.
  • Hearing: Discounted screenings and hearing aids (HearUSA).
  • 24/7 nurse line: Ability to call a registered nurse with questions about your health, medication costs and more.
  • Fitness: Free gym membership where available (Renew Active by UnitedHealthcare). AARP insurance stopped offering SilverSneakers in 2019.
  • Mental sharpness: Brain health games and activities (AARP Staying Sharp).
  • Driver safety: Safe driving course, which could help you reduce your car insurance rates.

Medigap costs vary by state

Costs for supplemental plans vary widely. To a large degree, this is due to state differences in pricing regulations.

Eight states prohibit cost increases based on age or health condition. Most other states are allowed to increase monthly costs as you get older. And there are three states that don’t follow the standard Medigap plan letters and have their own style of plans and pricing.

Below are the average AARP Medicare Supplement costs in each of these three categories.

1. AARP Medigap costs in states where age doesn’t affect the price

In states with this pricing structure, insurance companies aren’t allowed to use your age to increase your monthly costs. Your rates may increase over time based on inflation or industry changes, but in general, you can expect more stable pricing.

Plan name
Average monthly cost for AARP Medigap
Plan A$158
Plan B$242
Plan C$288
Plan F$256
Plan G (our recommendation for best overall plan)$193
Plan G (1)$173
Plan K$70
Plan L$136
Plan N$167
Plan N (1)$150

Data notes:

  • Plan G (1) and Plan N (1) have the standard benefits of their plan letter, but coverage is limited to in-network providers for some health care services, including hospitalization.
  • Estimates are based on a 65-year-old female nonsmoker in Seattle, Hartford, Conn. and Little Rock, Ark.
  • A 75-year-old was used for Plan C and F cost estimates because these plans are not offered to current 65-year-olds.

2. AARP Medigap costs in states where age affects pricing

In states with this pricing structure, the average monthly cost for the AARP Medigap Plan G is $124 per month for someone who is 65 years old. At age 75, the average monthly premium is $199, and it's $209 for those aged 85.

For Plan K, our recommendation for a cheap Medicare Supplement plan, the monthly costs range from $58 to $98.

AARP/UnitedHealthcare price increases are based on what it calls an enrollment discount.

  • From age 65 to 68, policyholders are given a 39% discount.
  • Then, the discount is reduced by three percentage points each year until age 81.
  • After age 81, you'll pay the standard rate without any additional age-related price changes.

This pricing structure is unique to AARP, and sample Medigap policies from Humana have a steady 3% increase each year.

Monthly cost of Kaiser health insurance

Data notes:

  • Plan G (1) and Plan N (1) have the standard benefits of their plan letter, but coverage is limited to in-network providers for some health care services, including hospitalization.
  • Based on estimates for a female nonsmoker in Dallas, Chicago and Charlotte, N.C.

3. AARP Medigap costs in states with alternative plans

Medicare Supplement plans in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin have different structures. Rather than the typical plan letters and benefits, these states use alternative plan names. Below are the average costs for AARP Medicare Supplement plans for a 65-year-old female nonsmoker in these states. Note that Minnesota and Massachusetts don’t allow price increases by age, but Wisconsin does.

  • Minnesota (Basic and Extended Basic plans): $192-$239
  • Massachusetts (Core and Supplemental 1A plans): $123-$172
  • Wisconsin (Basic plan and Basic plan with copayments): $86-$126

How AARP Medigap costs compare to other insurance companies

Because of the variable plan structures, it can be difficult to compare costs, and the most accurate comparison will be based on insurance quotes for your location and situation. In states where prices change as you age, the different formulas for price increases can affect your total lifetime costs. For example, a 65-year-old woman may pay more for AARP Medicare Supplement than for a similar plan from Humana or BlueCross BlueShield. However, in this case, AARP plans have slower price increases. By age 85, AARP Medigap is cheaper than Humana, Cigna and BlueCross BlueShield.

AARP Medigap cost comparison

To understand how aging will affect your costs, you can request multiple price quotes to discover the best deal now and for decades to come.

Customer reviews and satisfaction

AARP/UnitedHealthcare has mediocre customer reviews with several metrics indicating user complaints and frustrations.

Across all of its divisions, UnitedHealth Group has a slightly higher rate of complaints when compared to a typical insurer of its size. The company's complaint index from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is 1.22, which means that there's about a 22% higher rate of complaints than is typical.

When specifically looking at UnitedHealthcare Medicare Supplement plans, the NAIC reports that about 90% of complaints deal with claim handling.

On Better Business Bureau (BBB), both UnitedHealthcare and AARP receive an A+ rating, but their online customer reviews on the platform are low, scoring 1.06 to 1.28 out of 5. Common complaints about AARP include excessive junk mail, poor customer service and aggressive marketing.

UnitedHealthcare also ranks in the bottom third of providers in J.D. Power's survey on customer satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans. Although plans for Medicare Advantage are administered separately from Medicare Supplement Insurance, the poor customer service ranking provides telling insight.

However, UnitedHealthcare has a strong ability to pay its claims. It's one of the Largest Health Insurance Companies, and it has received strong financial ratings from AM Best with an A (excellent) score.

Frequently asked questions

Is AARP supplemental insurance good?

A supplemental insurance plan from AARP/UnitedHealthcare is a good value. It can help you reduce your out-of-pocket costs for medical care, and it includes discounts on vision, dental, hearing, gym membership and more.

Is AARP the same as UnitedHealthcare?

An AARP Medicare policy gives you insurance through UnitedHealthcare. There is a business agreement between the two companies where AARP provides marketing and endorsement in exchange for a portion of what policyholders pay.

Does AARP pay the Medicare deductible?

Deductible coverage will vary based on the plan you choose. The Medicare Part A deductible is fully covered by Medigap Plan B, D, G and N, and it's partially covered by Plan K, L and M.

Both the Medicare Part A and Part B deductible is fully covered by Medigap plans C and F. However, these two supplemental plans are only available to those who were eligible for Medicare before 2020.

What is AARP Medicare Supplement Plan F?

Medicare Supplement Plan F has the highest enrollment and very strong coverage, but it's only available to those who were eligible for Medicare before 2020. If you qualify, you can sign up for Plan F during the annual open enrollment period. If you don't qualify, we recommend Plan G for the best overall coverage.

Sources and methodology

The above comparisons are based on plan coverage levels, policy details, third-party rankings and sample cost data for 2021. Price quotes for a female nonsmoker were analyzed based on age, location and provider. Sources include Medicare.gov, AARP, UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Cigna, BlueCross BlueShield, the Better Business Bureau, J.D Power and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

{"align":"center","buttonColor":"primary","buttonIcon":"lock","buttonText":"Apply Now","category":"life_insurance_companies","className":"","cloudinaryImageName":"referral_logos\/us\/insurance\/aarpmedicare-1","cssNamespace":"AffiliateTileBanner","context":" in context: Review Header","disclaimers":[""],"isButtonSquare":true,"isUnavailable":false,"link":"https:\/\/www.aarpmedicareplans.com\/","name":"UnitedHealthcare\/AARP "}