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

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence BlueCross BlueShield's proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

Regence BlueCross BlueShield’s 14,811 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 17.9% on average, and as high as 36.1%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Regence goes forward.

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Comments on Moda Health Plan's proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

Moda Health Plan’s 58,280 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 32.3% on average, and as high as 84.2%,if the premium rate hike proposed by Moda goes forward.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on PacificSource Health Plans' proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

PacificSource Health Plans’ members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 15.2% on average, and as high as 25%, if the premium rate hike proposed by PacificSource goes forward. At the same time, the insurer is planning to scale back its service area drastically and no longer offer its plans in many regions of Oregon.

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Result | Health Care

Health Insurance Legislation Passed

In 2015, with OSPIRG’s strong support, the Oregon Legislature passed the state’s first comprehensive consumer protections in health insurance networks. Until now, Oregon law provided few protections to ensure that health plans offer a network that can provide covered services in a timely fashion. The new law requires insurers to provide accurate, actionable provider network information to consumers.

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Blog Post | Health Care

New data on health care prices raises questions for policymakers | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

A New York Times report released yesterday put the spotlight on health care prices. We all know that health care still costs too much, but too often, we have little information about how much it does cost and why.

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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.

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Hooray! Few Oregonians receive health insurance rebates

As health insurance companies spread $500 million in rebates to families around the U.S. this summer, Oregonians won’t represent a huge chunk of the recipients. That’s a good thing, argues Jesse Ellis O’Brien, health care advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Report | OSPIRG | Health Care

Senate Bill 891: Health Care Price Transparency Fact Sheet

Senate Bill 891 would require Oregon health care facilities to post their prices and provide real-time price estimates for consumers on request.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Accountability in Action: Rate Review Cuts Over $24 Million in Waste from 2015 Health Insurance Premiums

Close scrutiny of proposed health insurance premiums for 2015 has cut over $24 million in waste and unjustified costs from premiums for Oregon consumers and small businesses. This brings the total waste cut by Oregon’s rate review program to over $179 million since 2010.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Moda Health Plan's proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

Moda Health Plan’s membership of more than 95,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see double-digit rate hikes of 12.5% on average, and as high as 13.7%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Moda goes forward.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on PacificSource Health Plans' proposal to increase individual health insurance rates

Most of PacificSource Health Plan’s customer base of more than 12,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see double-digit rate hikes if the premium rate hike proposed by PacificSource goes forward. Had the rate been approved as initially filed, PacificSource’s members would have seen increases of 15.9% on average, ranging as high as 24%. However, shortly after filing, the insurer announced that the initial rate proposal had incorporated a major error, and proposed a new, lower average rate increase of 10.8%, ranging as high as 18.7%.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company's proposal to increase small group health insurance rates

Most of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company’s almost 17,000 small group members, from over 1,300 small businesses across Oregon, will see rate increases of 11.8% on average, and as high as 19.2%, if the premium rate hike proposed by United is approved.

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Blog Post | Health Care

The Whole Shebang at a Glance: Proposed Health Insurance Rates for 2016 | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Here’s the skinny on OSPIRG Foundation’s new analysis of 2016 rates proposed by four Oregon insurers—LifeWise, Moda, PacificSource and Regence. There’s some good news, some concerning news, and some very concerning news, but the best news of all is that thanks to Oregon’s health insurance rate review process, the insurers don’t get the last word.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Tax Season and Health Care: What You Need to Know | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Tax season is here, and many Oregonians may have questions about new tax forms and provisions, including health premium tax credits and the new requirement to purchase health insurance. Here’s what you need to know.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Open Enrollment: Here’s What You Need to Know | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

The countdown is on for enrolling in health insurance for 2015. With all of the changes coming to health care in Oregon, it’s more important than ever to get the facts about what’s happening and how you and your family can get coverage that works for you. Here’s our guide to Oregon’s open enrollment period, which starts November 15.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Health Insurance Rates for 2015 Announced Today | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Today, the Oregon Insurance Division—the state’s insurance regulator—announced its decisions on health insurers’ rate proposals for next year. These decisions come after OSPIRG Foundation’s in-depth analysis raised numerous questions about some of the larger proposed rate increases.

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Blog Post | Health Care

The Whole Shebang at a Glance: Proposed Health Insurance Rates for 2015 | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Here’s the skinny on OSPIRG Foundation’s new analysis of 2015 rates proposed by four Oregon insurers—Moda, PacificSource, United and Health Net. There’s some good news, some concerning news, and some very concerning news, but the best news of all is that thanks to Oregon’s health insurance rate review process, the insurers don’t get the last word.

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