Health Insurance Rate Watch Project

OSPIRG’s Health Insurance Rate Watch Project pushes health insurers to do more to cut waste and focus on prevention before they raise premiums. 

Cutting waste from insurance premiums

Health care still costs more than it should. One study estimates that in 2009, $765 billion, or one-third of all health care spending, was wasted on things that did not make us healthier. [1]  Some of that estimated waste included:

  • Overinflated medical prices: $105 billion in waste. Recently, hospitals have been caught charging outrageous prices, such as $1000 for one toothbrush and $140 for a single Tylenol. [2]
  • Duplicative treatments: $8 billion in waste. This includes the extra costs of having to get the same x-ray or MRI twice because health care is poorly coordinated.
  • Excessive administrative costs and paperwork: $190 billion in waste. 

Far too often, insurers simply pass those costs along to us in the form of higher premiums. 

So OSPIRG pushes back to make sure health insurance companies do more to cut waste before they raise premiums. By carefully scrutinizing rate hike proposals for things like administrative bloat, we’ve already helped cut over 150 million dollars from proposed rate increases in Oregon. [3] Now we want to make sure that insurers do even more to bring down costs: by focusing on keeping patients healthy instead of only paying for treatments once they get sick; actively negotiating for better deals from hospitals; and doing more to cut waste. [4] 

Unfortunately, some health insurance companies are spending millions to maintain their influence in Salem. But when we’ve brought public pressure to bear on unjustified rate increases, we’ve seen results, so join us!

**********

[1] Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Feb. 2011, The Healthcare Imperative: Lowering Costs and Improving Outcomes: infographic and report

[2] CNN, March 2010, Prescription for waste: $1000 toothbrush. See also New York Times, Dec. 2013, As Hospital Prices Soar, a Stitch Tops $500.

[3] OSPIRG Foundation, July 2013, Accountability in Action.

[4] See here for an example of a clinic in Oregon that is doing this the right way.

Learn more about Oregon's health insurance rate review process and sign up to get notified about major rate proposals at the Oregon Insurance Division's consumer-friendly website, www.oregonhealthrates.org

Issue updates

Result | Health Care

Kitzhaber Administration takes action on health care costs

At the direction of Gov. Kitzhaber, the Oregon Health Policy Board has adopted an OSPIRG-backed proposal to take steps toward cutting the waste out of our health care system, estimated to make up as much as 1/3 of every dollar we spend on care.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Health Care

Thousand Dollar Ointment (No, it’s not from Sephora) | David Rosenfeld

Lately, it has seemed like everyone I know has a story about an irrational hospital bill. Here’s one from my friend, Dave.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

A New Health Care Marketplace is Coming: Get Informed and Protect Yourself from Fraud | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

In just a few weeks, Oregon’s new health insurance marketplace, Cover Oregon, will be open for business. Any new program can be confusing for people at first, and scam artists and unscrupulous business ventures may try to take advantage of that confusion to rip off consumers. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, be sure to check out these top tips for protecting yourself from fraud.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

All you need to know about the 2014 health insurance rate decisions--in one chart! | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Scrutiny of health insurance rates has cut over $69 million in waste and unjustified costs from 2014 premiums. This chart breaks it down for you.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Over $69 Million in Waste Cut from 2014 Health Insurance Premiums

Close scrutiny of proposed health insurance premiums for 2014 has cut over $69 million in waste and unjustified costs from premiums for Oregon consumers and small businesses, according to a new OSPIRG Foundation report released today. The new cuts come after OSPIRG Foundation’s analysis questioned the justifications of five major rate proposals. Taken together with cuts made since new standards were implemented, state officials have required insurers to cut $155 million in waste since 2010.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Media Hit | Health Care

Oregonians pay on average 10 times more for top-selling brand name drugs

Oregonians have paid on average 10 times more for top-selling prescription drugs because of deals between drug manufacturers to delay production of generics. The 20 top prescription drugs that paid off their rivals to keep generics off the market resulted in average delays of five years that left patients paying up to 33 times as much for brand names, according to a report released Thursday from the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group and Community Catalyst.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Twenty Top Generic Drugs Delayed By Industry Payoffs

Oregonians with cancer, heart disease, epilepsy and other conditions have been forced to pay an average of 10 times more than necessary for at least 20 blockbuster drugs, according to a report released today by the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) and Community Catalyst.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

Oregon slashes 2014 health insurance premium requests by as much as 35 percent

Oregonians who buy their own insurance have the first clear indication of what 2014 premiums will look like after state regulators Tuesday slashed carriers' rate requests by as much as 35 percent.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

OSPIRG: 16 Health Insurance Companies Need To Justify Rates

An Oregon consumer group says the 16 companies that have proposed insurance rates for the state's new health exchange haven't offered adequate justification for prices.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Proposed 2014 health insurance rates lack adequate justification

Sixteen Oregon health insurance companies have proposed their premium rates for next year, and according to new OSPIRG Foundation analysis released today, many have failed to adequately justify their prices.“With some insurers proposing rates twice as high as others for identical coverage, it is more critical than ever to scrutinize the basis for these rates,” said Jesse O’Brien, OSPIRG Foundation Health Care Advocate.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Victory! Oregon Legislature Passes Landmark Health Reform

The bills expand access, tackle soaring costs, and set a path for possible public plan option. Passage of HB 2009 bodes especially well for national reform efforts to tame health care costs, which include many of the same strategies as the Oregon bill.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comment on Kaiser Foundation Health Plan's Proposed Individual Health Insurance Rates

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest has proposed premium rates for its individual and family plans for 2014. Since its initial rate filing, the insurer has submitted a proposal to reduce those rates. OSPIRG Foundation's analysis of Kaiser’s initial filing and the supplemental information provided raises some concerns about the insurer's proposal and its justification.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comment on BridgeSpan Health Company's Proposed Individual Health Insurance Rates

BridgeSpan Health Company—a new health insurer affiliated with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon through a parent company, Cambia Health Solutions—has proposed premium rates for its individual and family plans for 2014. OSPIRG Foundation's analysis raises questions about the insurer's justification for the proposal, and about BridgeSpan's efforts to reduce costs by cutting waste and focusing on prevention.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on LifeWise Health Plan's Proposal for Individual Health Insurance Rates

LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon has proposed premium rates for its individual and family plans for 2014. After careful analysis of LifeWise’s initial filing and the supplemental information provided, OSPIRG Foundation's analysis questions whether the insurer has provided sufficient information to evaluate the justification for their proposed rate.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comment on Moda Health Plan's Proposed Individual Health Insurance Rates

 

Moda Health Plan—formerly known as ODS Health Plan—has proposed premium rates for its individual and family plans for 2014. Moda’s proposed rates are the lowest filed for an insurer in Oregon’s Individual market. While Moda’s product is inexpensive relative to the competition, it remains critical to examine the justification for their rate.

 

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Advancing Accountability, Cutting Health Care Waste

Since 2010, close scrutiny of health insurance rate hikes has cut over $80 million in waste and unjustified costs from health insurance premiums in Oregon, according to a new OSPIRG Foundation report. The report also identifies changes to Oregon’s rate review program that would effectively tackle the biggest driver of costs: waste in the health care delivery system.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Health Care

Competition and Transparency Bring Down Health Insurance Costs—Here’s the Proof | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Something remarkable just happened to health insurance costs here in Oregon. Last week, after the state’s health insurers posted their proposed premium rates for next year, two insurers publicly reversed course and moved to cut their prices.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

The Supreme Court and the High Cost of Rx Drugs | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Everyone knows prescription drugs cost more than they should. But many people are surprised to learn about one of the key ways drug companies keep prices high: Paying off competitors to keep generics off the market.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

A new way of shopping for health insurance gets a trial run | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

 

For the first time, the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange brought in consumers and outside experts to review their designs for their online marketplace. I was there, and here’s some of what I learned.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Here’s that Rx refill you didn’t order | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Is your pharmacy refilling your prescription without your knowledge or approval, and billing your insurance company for the cost? If so, it’s the latest example of waste we shouldn't tolerate in our health care system.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

A wake-up call on health insurance costs | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Governor Kitzhaber’s office just released a report that should serve as a wake-up call for everyone in Oregon who is affected by the rising cost of health insurance.

This report just underlines what we’ve been saying all along—that it’s time to get serious about the cost of health care.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed

PRIORITY ACTION

Tell the Governor: Hold insurers accountable for cutting waste and prioritizing prevention. 

Support Us

Your donation supports OSPIRG’s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates, and take action on critical issues.