AARP is an American interest group and a non- governmental organization, which was formerly referred to as American Association of Retired Persons. It was founded by an American educator by the name Ethel Percy Andrus, in 1958. Its mission statement is a nonpartisan, nonprofit membership organization for persons aged 50 and above. The main objective is to improve quality of life for all persons in this age bracket. The organization provides its members with a wide variety of unique benefits, high quality services and special products. The organization is also regarded as among the most powerful and influential lobbying groups in America. It has two main affiliate organizations namely the AAARP Service Inc and AARP Foundation. The former is solely geared towards making profits while the latter operates as a non-profit organization.
According to the founder Ethel Percy Andrus, AARP has evolved from National Retired Teachers Association, which the founder had established in 1947 for purposes of promoting her philosophy known as ‘productive aging’. Her philosophy underscored the need for all retiring teachers to have health insurance coverage. One decade later, she opened the organizations to all persons in America aged above the age of 50 years
AARP is an organization reputed for addressing issues affecting seniors in America, through initiatives such as lobbying efforts at both the national and state level. This is an activity which has been permitted in 501(c) status of AARP. The organization is further reputed for being a non- partisan in politics by virtue of not supporting or funding any political party or candidate. The organization achieved the enviable feat of hitting revenue of a billion dollar mark in 2006. The most notable project initiated by the organization was 2013, when it launched ‘Reimagined’.
The program entails guiding people through their life transition by helping them discover new opportunities and also connect them with other people with whom they share similar goals and passions.
Pros of AARP
- Hotel discounts – All AARP members can save from 5% to 15% when paying at participating hotels during their time of travel. Participating hotels include Howard Johnson, Sleep Inn, la Quinta, Sheraton and Comfort Inn.
- Car rental discounts – AARP members can get up to 25% discount, off the cost of renting a car or track in all participating car companies. Participating car companies include Hertz, Budget, Enterprise, Avis and National car companies.
- Other Travel Discounts – AARP members can get numerous discounts at some luxury cruises, resorts and amusement parks. Though discounts are offered depending on the type of tour package, there is nevertheless a variety of available options such as an exclusive tour to Egypt and travel savings of $ 325 per member.
- Insurance – AARP members are eligible to numerous insurance discounts ranging from health insurance, life insurance to car insurance
- Costs – The annual AARP membership cost is $16, and it comes with a free membership for a member’s spouse. You can apply for membership online if you are 50 and above. You can also become AAPR associate member in case you are below 50 years, in order to receive partial benefit.
- Conflicts of interest – AARP makes tons of dollars by selling products and third party services to its members. Some of the products are investment, travel and insurance services. Critics say that these products do not offer AARP members any benefits. The way AARP relates with products providers may differ with the organization’s mission of representing seniors.
- Lobbying – Many people in America are uncomfortable with the influence brought about by lobbyists since they aim at influencing the political process. The AARP lobbying activities annually spends more than $22 million.
- Membership requirements – The annual cost of AARP is $16. For you to be an AARP member, you must give your contact information, which AARP requires for sending special offers and advertisement.
Who is AARP best suited for
AARP is best suited for the following group of people:
- AARP is best suited for American persons aged the age of 50 years and above, and who lacks a comprehensive health insurance scheme.
- Americans aged citizens who are victims of low income, hunger and isolation. That is why the organization states that it envisages a nation free of poverty and hunger, and a country where aged people don’t feel vulnerable.
- All retired American teachers wishing to join a vibrant health insurance organization.
- The organization is also best suited for all retired persons in America. Nevertheless, the organization insists that it doesn’t extend its membership to retired persons who are below 50 years of age.