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!

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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, 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

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
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Accountability in Action

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. This brings the total waste cut by Oregon’s rate review program to over $155 million since 2010, providing more evidence that Oregon’s effort to create accountability for health insurers is starting to pay off.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

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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Blog Post | Health Care

Few Oregonians will receive health insurance rebate checks this year—Here’s why that’s a good thing | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

This summer, consumers and businesses nationwide will receive $500 million in rebates from health insurance companies. Only 1 in every 200 Oregonians will see a dime as a result of this program, and that’s great news for our state. Here’s why.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Providence Customers May See Rates Rise As Much As 18.6%

 

More than 12,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 15.7% on average, and as high as 18.6%, if the premium rate hike posted today by Providence Health Plans goes forward. Many customers will also see increased out-of-pocket costs.

 

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Regence Rate Hike To Reach 16.4% for Some Customers

More than 52,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 9.6% on average, and as high as 16.4%, if the premium rate hike posted today by Regence BlueCross BlueShield goes forward. At the same time, customers in lower-deductible plans will face out-of-pocket costs starting at $2,500 before coverage kicks in, and consumers in the Portland metro area may need to change providers.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

Portland-area Regence BlueCross BlueShield individual members could see rate hikes as high as 15.3 percent

Individual members of Regence BlueCross BlueShield could see an average 9.6-percent rate increase statewide, requested by the insurer months after announcing network changes to cut costs.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act

Today’s decision is good news for consumers in Oregon. Now it’s time for Oregon leaders to move forward on the next steps, and make sure health reform delivers lower costs and better quality coverage.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Health Net Rate Hike Not Justified

If approved, the rate increase would impact 38,492 Oregonians with coverage through a small business employer. Of those enrollees, 14,298 would see rates rise between 11% and 30%.

 

> Keep Reading

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Making the Grade

By providing better options and better information, and negotiating on behalf of its enrollees, the exchange can level the playing field for consumers.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on ODS Health Plan's Proposal to Increase Rates 9.94%

ODS Health Plan (ODS) is proposing to raise rates an average of 9.94%, impacting 26,333 Oregon consumers and families with individual plans, effective November 1, 2011. The nearly 10% rate increase comes after two back-to-back years of increases exceeding 17%. If approved, the average rate will have increased 52% for individual policyholders over the last three years.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Proposal to Increase Rates 22%

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon (Regence) is proposing to raise rates an average of 22.1% on individual plans. These are plans for people who do not have employer-based coverage. If approved, this rate increase will impact 59,477 Oregonians effective August 1, 2011.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Proposal to Raise Small Businesses Rates

Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield (Regence) is proposing a rate increase on small business plans, with an average increase of 10.8%, impacting 54,299 Oregonians, effective July 1, 2011.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace: Negotiating for a Better Deal

A well-made state exchange can help deliver lower costs for individuals and small businesses. Just as big businesses negotiate with insurers, using the bargaining power of their employees to push for lower premiums, so too can exchange enrollees benefit from a muscular exchange that negotiates on their behalf for better choices and lower costs.

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