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. Close scrutiny of rate hike proposals already helped cut over 179 million dollars from health insurance premiums 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.

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!

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[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, September 2014, Accountability in Action.

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

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.

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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. 

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

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

Providence Health Plan has proposed premium rates for its individual and family plans for 2014. The insurer initially filed for significantly higher rates than Oregon’s other top insurance companies,   but then proposed lowering the rates. Doing so would bring the rates in line with those of competing insurers. OSPIRG Foundation's analysis of Providence's initial filing and the supplemental information provided raises some concerns about the insurer's proposal and its justification.

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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.

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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.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Over 400,000 Oregonians Hit With Insurance Hikes 4X Inflation

Oregon health insurance companies raised average rates four times above the rate of inflation (14.2%) in 2008 on individual, small business and portability plans affecting 443,365 people.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Oregon Health Reform Plan Takes on Rising Costs

Consumer and small business leaders gathered together just before the Oregon Health Fund Board’s final public hearing to call attention to the Board’s efforts to make health care more affordable for Oregonians.

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