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Four Things You Should Know About AARP

Tom Wilbur   |     August 14, 2019   |   SHARE THIS

As lawmakers in Washington consider policies to make changes to Medicare prescription drug coverage, one solution that would provide immediate relief is sharing the savings biopharmaceutical companies negotiate with insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) with seniors at the pharmacy counter. Despite support from policymakers on both sides of the aisle and more than 86% of AARP members, AARP continues to oppose policies that would enable sharing the savings with seniors, while receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from insurance companies every year.  

In comments submitted earlier this year on the Administration’s proposed rebate rule (see here and here), AARP consistently opposes allowing seniors to share the savings at the pharmacy counter. Their comments echoed the concerns used by insurance companies, from whom AARP has received the vast majority of their revenue in recent years. Eighty-five percent of AARP members say they are disappointed in AARP for siding with insurers in opposition to the rebate rule.

AARP chooses to stand with insurance companies rather than their own members. Here are four facts that may explain why:

  • Since 2010, AARP has made more than $4.5 billion in royalties and investment income as a result of their relationship with insurance companies. AARP consolidated financial statements available here: 20102011201220132014201520162017.
  • AARP earned more than double the amount of revenue from United Healthcare Group (UHG) as they do from their 38 million members. In 2017, AARP recognized $301 million in membership dues, while reporting $627 million in royalties from United (2017). This continues a growth trend going back as far as 2009. From 2009 to 2017, AARP saw a 47% increase in royalties from UHG, from $427 million to $627 million; while membership dues only increased 22%.
  • According to a 2011 Congressional report, “United is AARP’s largest business partner. As part of the United and AARP business agreement all three of the Medicare insurance product lines are marketed under the AARP brand name.” This same report further found that “State insurance rate filings show that, in 2010, AARP retained 4.95% of seniors’ premiums for every Medigap policy sold under its name.”

  • The same report quoted a former AARP executive as saying that, “The new arrangement with insurance companies creates a tremendous number of potential conflicts for AARP.”

All of these facts beg the question, who is AARP really fighting for?

Get more facts about AARP here.

Tom Wilbur

Tom Wilbur Tom Wilbur is a director of public affairs at PhRMA focusing on the organization’s federal advocacy priorities including intellectual property and Medicare Part D. Prior to joining PhRMA, Tom worked in national and state politics for nearly a decade, most recently on Capitol Hill as a strategic communicator and campaign manager. Tom is a proud Michigander and in his spare time enjoys reading, live music, and spending time with friends and family cheering on Detroit sports teams.

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