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 | Health Care

Oregon lawmakers poised to debate two proposals to make health care prices more transparent

Today, an Oregon Senate Committee will hear public testimony for the first time on two pieces of legislation with very different approaches to making health care price information more widely available. To clarify what is at stake, OSPIRG has released a white paper (pdf) outlining the key differences between the two proposals.

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Post the Price, Please

The Oregon State Legislature is poised to debate the merits of two pieces of legislation with very different approaches to making health care prices more transparent and publicly available for consumers. While these bills may appear to be aimed at accomplishing the same ends, the differences are profound. Here are the key differences in a nutshell.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Legislation introduced to make sure consumers get to see health care prices up front

Senate Bill 891, introduced today, 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 | 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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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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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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%.

 

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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.

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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.

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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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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Health Care

For Health Net Customers | David Rosenfeld

If you are a Health Net customer, you may have received a notice in the mail this week. If you did, we urge you to open it.

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