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 PacificSource Health Plan's proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

PacificSource Health Plan members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 42.7% on average, and as high as 60.4%, if the premium rate hike proposed by PacificSource goes forward. PacificSource’s increase is the largest proposed by a major health insurance carrier in Oregon’s individual market since 2010, when new rules heightening scrutiny of health insurance rates were implemented.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

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

Regence BlueCross BlueShield’s membership of more than 24,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 12.3% on average, if the premium rate hike proposed by Regence goes forward. Some Regence members in transitional plans that will be discontinued at the end of the current year, which do not include the consumer protections of the federal health reform law, may see increases of up to 235% if they stick with Regence.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon's proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon’s 26,405 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 37.2%on average, and as high as 45%, if the premium rate hike proposed by LifeWise goes forward.

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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 102,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 25.6% on average, and as high as 54.12%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Moda goes forward. Moda currently has the largest market share in Oregon’s Individual market. Moda’s increase is the largest proposed by the dominant carrier in the individual market since 2010, when new rules heightening scrutiny of health insurance rates were implemented.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

OSPIRG applauds passage of landmark health insurance network consumer protection legislation

House Bill 2468 will enable state regulators hold insurers accountable for delivering access to needed health care services through provider networks. The bill passed the Oregon Senate today and is on its way to Gov. Brown’s desk.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Malpractice Legislation Nearly Ready to See Daylight

After months of negotiations between trial lawyers and physicians, legislators are optimistic about reaching a consensus on medical malpractice reform when they gather in Salem next month. All along the goal has been to find a way of reducing lawsuits while creating a safer patient environment.

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Media Hit | Health Care

What's Next on Health Care Costs?

Now that the election is over, talk has turned to the need to work together and get results for America. It's a tall order, and on the polarized issue of health care, it may seem at first like an impossible task. But I am hopeful that we can make significant progress together.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Regence rate hike scaled back

State officials have decided to trim Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon’s proposal to raise rates for more than 52,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans. Instead of the 9.6% rate hike proposed, the Oregon Insurance Division approved an 8.9% average increase, with some consumers seeing increases as high as 15.6%. Regence does not appear to have resolved many of the problems identified in OSPIRG Foundation's analysis of their proposal. In addition, elements of the decision were based on information that was not made available to the public.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Regence Rate Hike Not Justified

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon’s proposal to raise rates for Oregonians with individual health insurance plans does not measure up, according to a new OSPIRG Foundation analysis.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Regence BlueCross BlueShield defends proposed rate hike at Salem hearing

Escalating medical and prescription drug costs have given Regence BlueCross BlueShield executives little choice but to raise rates an average 9.6 percent for people who buy their own insurance, an executive told Oregon insurance regulators Monday.

Jesse Ellis O'Brien of the OSPIRG Foundation said Oregonians will face less choice and more costs as a result of the proposal.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Raising the Bar: Strategies to contain cost and improve quality in Oregon’s health insurance exchange

Oregon’s new health insurance exchange has the potential to rein in the rising cost of health insurance and the underlying cost of care, while improving quality and giving consumers better choices. With the purchasing power of hundreds of thousands of Oregonians behind it, the exchange has the power to build better value for consumers, but it can only live up to its promise if it works from the beginning to raise the bar for health insurance in Oregon.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

At Stake: What's on the Line for Health Care Consumers in the Pending Supreme Court Case

The outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have far reaching impacts on consumers. The law is already working to improve the quality of care and reduce costs, with millions of Americans experiencing concrete improvements in their coverage. In this issue brief, we highlight the number of people the law has helped so far and the costs already saved to illustrate what’s at stake for Oregon consumers in the pending Supreme Court case.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on PacificSource's Small Business Rate Hike Proposal

PacificSource is proposing to increase rates 5.56% on average, affecting 35,224 Oregonians enrolled in small business plans. If approved, this rate increase will have wide ranging impacts. Most enrollees will see increases of between 6% and 10%. Some will see increases of up to 11.2%. Over 27% will see increases of between 8% and 14%.

 

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Small Business Rate Hike Proposal

We are concerned that Regence BlueCross BlueShield (Regence) has not adequately justified its proposal for a rate increase impacting 47,806 Oregonians with coverage through a small business employer.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Oregon Healthcare Exchange Holds Promise for Consumers | Matt Orchant

Consumers and small businesses may get better healthcare for lower costs if the Oregon Healthcare Exchange meets its potential.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Regence Rate Increase Hearing | Matt Orchant

Health insurance premiums are going up again. The latest request for a rate hike came from Regence for their small group plans. The average increase requested over the next year will be 8%, but some businesses will see increases in excess of 15%. At OSPIRG, we’re concerned that Regence has not adequately justified this increase request.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Health Care

Latest Regence Health Insurance Rate Hike

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon is proposing to raise rates an average of 22% on 60,000 Oregonians. This is the fifth straight year of double-digit rate hikes. But this year, something interesting is happening.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Health Care

The Oregonian and health care costs | David Rosenfeld

If you haven't seen the Oregonian's editorial on the Senate's health insurance exchange bill, it's worth a read. Unfortunately, the Oregon Senate decided to prohibit the exchange from negotiating with insurance companies to get consumers a better deal (which I'm sure insurers are happy about.)

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Health Care

Holding health insurers accountable for costs | David Rosenfeld

What if health insurance companies had to stand before the public and clearly justify their rate hikes?

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