Royalties from licensing the use of AARP's name earned $657 million for the organization in 2009, or nearly half its total revenue, according to publicly available records. Health insurance plans accounted for most of that.
"During this investigation it became very clear that despite its privileged tax-exempt status, in many cases, AARP represents a for-profit entity, in fact, an insurance company," Boustany said.
The report found that insurance sales are AARP's single largest source of revenue, far eclipsing member dues. AARP-brand offerings are the market leaders for Medicare prescription coverage, private Medicare Advantage insurance plans, and Medigap supplemental coverage that fills in benefit gaps in traditional Medicare.
UnitedHealthcare, which operates the AARP plans, paid the organization $427 million in 2009 for the use of its name, according to the report.