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

Blog Post | Health Care

5 Things Learned from the Oregon Prescription Drug Transparency Program in 2020 | Maribeth Guarino

 

In 2018, OSPIRG helped pass a prescription drug price transparency program in order to better understand why prescriptions cost so much and to protect consumers from unexpected price increases. Now in its second year, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services released the results from 2020 reporting. Here are some key takeaways:

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Humira manufacturer’s efforts to block generic options challenged in court

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Proprietary medical device repair harms hospitals, could threaten patients, during COVID-19 pandemic

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News Release | OSPIRG | COVID-19, Health Care

Hospital repair professionals: Just let us fix life-saving devices like ventilators

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Oregon Releases Report on Rising Drug Costs

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

OR Legislature Advances Bill Targeting RX Price Hikes

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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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Result | Health Care

Kitzhaber Administration takes action on health care costs

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Result | Health Care

Governor Kitzhaber To Pursue Strengthened Scrutiny for Health Insurance Rates

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Result | Health Care

MAKING HEALTH CARE AFFORDABLE

OSPIRG Health Care Advocate Laura Etherton helped lead efforts to require Oregon health insurers to meet tougher standards to prove premium increases are reasonable. Prompted in part by OSPIRG advocacy, Oregon officials scaled back a request by United Healthcare to raise health insurance rates by nearly 17%, saving 14,000 Oregonians a cumulative $4 million in 2011.

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Result | Health Care

Young People Now Covered

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | COVID-19, Health Care

Hospital Repair Restrictions

COVID-19 is putting incredible stress on the U.S. medical system, including the work of hospital biomedical repair technicians, known as biomeds or BMETs. These technicians are essential; hospitals need working equipment to diagnose and treat patients. But in some cases, manufacturers restrict access to what biomeds need.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Consumer Tips, Health Care

The Real Price of Medication

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

A Better Health Insurance Market For Oregon

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

OSPIRG FOUNDATION COMMENTS ON THE PROVIDENCE HEALTH PLAN PROPOSAL FOR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH RATES EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2019

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Health Care

Improving Price Transparency

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Blog Post | Health Care

5 Things Learned from the Oregon Prescription Drug Transparency Program in 2020 | Maribeth Guarino

 

In 2018, OSPIRG helped pass a prescription drug price transparency program in order to better understand why prescriptions cost so much and to protect consumers from unexpected price increases. Now in its second year, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services released the results from 2020 reporting. Here are some key takeaways:

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Blog Post | Health Care

Oregon healthcare is now more widely accessible

Medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in America. Oregon is working to help people avoid that fate.

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In 2018, OSPIRG helped pass a prescription drug price transparency program in order to better understand why prescriptions cost so much and to protect consumers from unexpected price increases. Now in its second year, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services released the results from 2020 reporting. Here are some key takeaways:

Health Care

OSPIRG applauds legislative progress on health care, recycling; urges further action

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Health Care

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Health Care

OSPIRG showcases Voices for Better Health Care

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Health Care

Here's what you can do if you receive a surprise medical bill

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