There was an option at one point to convert your AOL account to a free "bring your own access" option. When it was first introduced it was just a lower monthly fee, but once broadband had become ubiquitous in the US, you could nix the monthly fee altogether as long as you never dialed up. You had to seek out that particular billing plan, of course; they didn't just quit charging you because you stopped hitting their modem pool.
I did this conversion some years back (my account was already comped at the time, but I was future-proofing against their credit card shenanigans) and I haven't paid a penny to AOL since 1995 or so. My old AOL screen names are still valid @aol.com email addresses that I can use through their webmail interface, and it occasionally freaks people out to see "Member since: 1994" on my AIM profile. Last time I checked, I could even log on to whatever's left of the proprietary AOL service with their client software. That thing hasn't touched my own machines in years so I can't tell whether or not that still works.
I would imagine there's still some manner for paying users to convert their accounts this way, but they have to know about it in order to do it. If you know any AOL users, have them try the keyword "BILLING" and see what options come up.