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

What’s at Stake for Oregon if the Fifth Circuit Rules Against the ACA? | Numi Lee Griffith

The Fifth Circuit head oral arguments in the Texas v. Azar Lawsuit on July 9, 2019.  Oregon has a lot at stake if the Affordable Care Act is overturned - hundreds of thousands of consumers will face higher premiums or lose insurance outright, and dozens of important cosumer protections could be rolled back.

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OR Legislature Advances Bill Targeting RX Price Hikes

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Consumers Can Now Report Drug Price Increases to the State of Oregon | Numi Lee Griffith

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

OR Legislature Advances Bill Targeting RX Price Hikes

Oregon's Senate voted unanimously to advance HB 2658 to the Governor's desk, 25-0.  This bill requires pharmaceutical manufactuers to provide 60-days advance notice before implementing substantial price hikes on prescription drugs.  Advance notice gives patients and health benefit companies time to plan around price hikes instead of being blindsided.  A similar policy in California has bee associated with rollbacks of several planned price increases over the summer of 2018.

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Oregon’s Insurance Market Faces Rising Premiums, but the State has Options to Stabilize the Marketplace

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Prices of common medications can vary by hundreds of dollars

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OSPIRG Seeks Consumer Stories about Health Care in Oregon

 

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Second recall of King Bio’s homeopathic drugs in the past month

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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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Kitzhaber Administration takes action on health care costs

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Governor Kitzhaber To Pursue Strengthened Scrutiny for Health Insurance Rates

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MAKING HEALTH CARE AFFORDABLE

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Young People Now Covered

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A Better Health Insurance Market For Oregon

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Improving Price Transparency

Opaque and unavailable prices for health care services violate the basic consumer right to know in advance about the price of goods or services. When consumers are asked to make decisions about care without access to meaningful price information, they are unable to make informed decisions in high-stakes situations that can profoundly affect their future health and financial security. Improving the price transparency of health care services isn’t just about fulfilling a basic consumer right – it is also a critical step in diagnosing and addressing the high cost of health care. 

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OSPIRG Foundation Comments on the Providence Health Plan Proposal for Individual Health Rates Effective January 2018

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

Providence Health Plan’s 105,406 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 29.6% on average, and as high as 72.3%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Providence 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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Blog Post | Health Care

What’s at Stake for Oregon if the Fifth Circuit Rules Against the ACA? | Numi Lee Griffith

The Fifth Circuit head oral arguments in the Texas v. Azar Lawsuit on July 9, 2019.  Oregon has a lot at stake if the Affordable Care Act is overturned - hundreds of thousands of consumers will face higher premiums or lose insurance outright, and dozens of important cosumer protections could be rolled back.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Consumers Can Now Report Drug Price Increases to the State of Oregon | Numi Lee Griffith

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New Survey Finds Massive Variations in Prescription Drug Prices | Numi Lee Griffith

Oregon's legislature is considering several bills that could bring down the high cost of prescription drugs.  OSPIRG Foundation's recent report, the "Real Price of Medications" exposed vast and illogical price variations between different pharmacies.  Lawmakers should take concrete actions to address this problem, but there are steps consumers can take right now to save money on prescription drugs.

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Oregon healthcare is now more widely accessible

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Blog Post

The Fifth Circuit head oral arguments in the Texas v. Azar Lawsuit on July 9, 2019.  Oregon has a lot at stake if the Affordable Care Act is overturned - hundreds of thousands of consumers will face higher premiums or lose insurance outright, and dozens of important cosumer protections could be rolled back.

News Release | OSPIRG

Oregon's Senate voted unanimously to advance HB 2658 to the Governor's desk, 25-0.  This bill requires pharmaceutical manufactuers to provide 60-days advance notice before implementing substantial price hikes on prescription drugs.  Advance notice gives patients and health benefit companies time to plan around price hikes instead of being blindsided.  A similar policy in California has bee associated with rollbacks of several planned price increases over the summer of 2018.

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation

Oregon consumers face rising health insurance premiums on the individual market, due to rising health care costs and recent changes to federal policy.  A new report from OSPIRG Foundaiton and Frontier Group explores the drivers of market instability and policy options for the state to stabilize the marketplace and expand consumer choice.

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

New report from OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group details rising health care costs and federal disruptions to the individual insurance market; explores policy options to stabilize prices and expand consumer choice.

Blog Post

This March, the State of Oregon launched a system that allows consumers to report price increases on their prescription drugs.   OSPIRG encourages consumers to report price increases on their prescriptions to the state whenever possible.

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