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Unnumbered Note No. 16 - The Curmudgeon Letters

About Unnumbered Note No. 16

Previous Entry Unnumbered Note No. 16 Jun. 17th, 2011 @ 05:52 pm Next Entry

AARP, The Awful Association of Rip-off Professionals

OurFuture.org reported today: “The front page of today's Wall Street Journal features an article, ‘Key Seniors Association Pivots on Benefit Cut,’ saying the organization ‘is dropping its longstanding opposition to cutting Social Security benefits.’ This is a big deal – not because AARP was ever such a strong force against proposed benefit cuts, but because the mainstream media is now full of headlines like this from Time Online: ‘Victory! The Grey Goliath Gives Way on Social Security.’”

I dropped my membership a few years ago when AARP endorsed the prescription drug bill that created the “donut hole” and prohibited Medicare from negotiating prescription drug prices. In my resignation letter I told them that I would not contribute to the support of pharmaceutical companies at the expense of their own membership.

Then I watched the insurance distributorship portion of AARP expand from automobile insurance to Medicare supplemental, to Part D insurance, Dental, Vision, etc. In other words expanding their ‘business’ into exploiting all of the weaknesses in our health care system. They never endorsed, supported or promoted single-payer health insurance and their endorsement of the Part D rip-off was very important if not critical in gaining the support it needed to be passed in Congress.

Have you noticed all of the TV advertising of AARP’s version of Medigap insurance? Have you noticed that their insurance is actually provided by United Health Care? So AARP basically buys it’s insurance form UHC, laying off its bets, and spends a ton of money advertising on TV.  When you pay your AARP insurance bills, you are paying for:

·        the underlying insurance company costs of covering any claims that they can’t deny (and the costs of trying to deny them all;

·        the profits (above their management costs, advertising costs, sales costs, and gambling losses in the stock market); and

·        all of AARP’s expensive national TV advertising, and a ‘profit’ for AARP!

When AARP’s ads say “the only health insurance endorsed by AARP” they mean “we made a deal with UHC that is the best financial deal we could find for reselling Medicare related insurance.” Why didn’t they support single-payer―because single-payer would drive them out of the health insurance selling business! Why didn’t they oppose the pharmaceutical welfare act—because they saw an opportunity to resell some more health insurance.

As I read their financial statement for 2010, almost $657 million of their $1,228 million, i.e. about 54%, over half of their revenue came from insurance premiums paid by their members. In other words AARP is an insurance company (that takes no risks).

All of this means that AARP profits when health costs rise and loses income when health costs are reduced. Of course when you are elderly and living on a fixed income, rising health care costs are almost always your most serious financial problem and AARP will continue to work against your best interests. So now they are supporting the reduction of your fixed income!

Can Republicans Learn to Compromise?

I doubt that Republicans can actually learn to play nice. I don’t think that their mothers taught them to share. But, optimist that I am, I see an opportunity for them to learn to compromise! The process of selecting their 2012 Presidential candidate won’t allow for selecting one person who supports all of the non-negotiable positions (e.g. a-zygote-is-a-person; let-them-eat-nothing; lock-them-all-up-forever; corporations-should-rule-the-world; I-know-what-GOD-wants, etc) held by the two or three major factions of the party. They are going to have to give up something they want for something they want more. If they don’t do some compromising, they will essentially decompose into a handful of special interest groups with nothing much in common. Even if they do get it together, I don’t know how that will get Republicans in Congress that are willing to compromise in order to pass legislation.
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