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Alternatives To AARP: The American Seniors Association (ASA)

By KellyRose McAleer - September 24, 2014

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Although the American Association of Retired Persons boasts over 37 million members, it is not necessarily the go-to advocacy group for American seniors. Because people aged 50+ are so diverse in terms of opinions, backgrounds, and political leanings, a number of new organizations have sprung up to fill in the gaps. One such group, the American Seniors Association, became the group former AARP members turned to in 2009.

The Original Advocate: AARP

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is America’s longest-standing senior advocacy group. Founded in 1958, and like the National Retired Teachers Association from which it sprung, the nonprofit AARP also aims to promote health insurance for its members, in this case retired persons. The organization’s motto is “To serve, not be served.” As such an established group, its website offers everything from tax aid to Medicare Q&A, to discounts at stores like Toys R Us, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc. AARP offers not only health insurance, but car insurance and homeowners insurance as well. They also offer resources for finding care providers if you are considering one, and has offices in every state so you can get involved with your local chapter.

But the advocacy group’s recent drop in members has shown that not all of America’s seniors feel the group represents their best interests. It has also been criticized for backing policies that some argue seem to benefit seniors but would wreak havoc on the country, such as the privatization of social security. And in 2009 when AARP supported proposed health care reforms it lost between 50,000 and 60,000 members. Many of those members switched over to the American Seniors Association (ASA).

The Conservative Option: ASA

The ASA does not have the long history of the AARP, nor the same political ideals. According to its site, the AARP represents its members by focusing on issues that are applicable to all seniors, including economic security, health care, etc. The AARP also claims nonpartisan status, although it has been criticized for having left-wing leanings. The ASA seems eager to become the conservative alternative, using its website to call itself “the new choice and the new voice for America’s seniors” with “an emerging conservative voice on the national issues that impact seniors”

The ASA was founded in 2009 “to protest the Obama administration’s proposals for expanded public funding healthcare.” Its website also lists five foundations: Rebuild national values, Reform Social Security, Reform Medicare, Reform the Tax Code, and Control government overspending. The ASA allows membership from Americans who are not senior citizens. Like the AARP is it funded through insurance, but the American Seniors Association still seems to be coming into itself.

The American Seniors Association offers personalized coverage and savings with Liberty Mutual Home and Health Insurance. They also offer member rates for dental coverage, hospital indemnity plans, final expense policies, rental car and travel insurance, and even pet insurance through Healthy Paws. Their website also has a helpful VA Benefit & Attendance Self-Help Guide so that veterans’ families can apply for their benefits. While the ASA has does not offer extras like games and dating profiles on its website, it will help you pay and save on the healthcare items you really need, like diabetes supplies.

What Each Organization Can Offer

Both the AARP and the ASA are non-governmental organizations who advocate for American seniors aged 50 and up, and claim to give the member a voice in Washington. Membership fees are nearly the same, at $15/year for the ASA which includes your spouse and $16/year for the AARP which includes your spouse/partner. However, only donations to the AARP are tax-deductible.

The ASA website is less developed than its counterpart’s, which offers everything from job hunting tools to research on topics that affect senior citizens. The ASA is still gaining experience, and the website states its belief that “America’s seniors should always be free to pursue a full, healthy, wealthy life” but does not state how it will go about making that happen. However, since the ASA is a newer branch with less members, your individual voice may have a better chance of being heard than with the AARP where you would be one of 37 million voices. The right pick for you may depend on your politics, and how involved you want to be with the organization. The American Association of Retired Persons has a lot of extra benefits, but if you don’t see yourself utilizing all of the bells and whistles, the American Seniors Association may be a better fit.