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

Kitzhaber Administration takes action on health care costs

At the direction of Gov. Kitzhaber, the Oregon Health Policy Board has adopted an OSPIRG-backed proposal to take steps toward cutting the waste out of our health care system, estimated to make up as much as 1/3 of every dollar we spend on care.

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Result | Health Care

Kitzhaber Administration takes action on health care costs

At the direction of Gov. Kitzhaber, the Oregon Health Policy Board has adopted an OSPIRG-backed proposal to take steps toward cutting the waste out of our health care system, estimated to make up as much as 1/3 of every dollar we spend on care.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Health Care

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Lately, it has seemed like everyone I know has a story about an irrational hospital bill. Here’s one from my friend, Dave.

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A New Health Care Marketplace is Coming: Get Informed and Protect Yourself from Fraud | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

In just a few weeks, Oregon’s new health insurance marketplace, Cover Oregon, will be open for business. Any new program can be confusing for people at first, and scam artists and unscrupulous business ventures may try to take advantage of that confusion to rip off consumers. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, be sure to check out these top tips for protecting yourself from fraud.

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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.

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Pages

News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

15,000 Young Oregonians Can Now Keep Coverage

An estimated 15,000 young adults and their families in Oregon could benefit from a new provision of the federal health care law, effective today, that allows parents to keep their adult children on their family coverage plan until age 26.

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Plan to Cut Health Care Waste Moves Ahead

This week, state officials advanced a plan to cut needless administrative paperwork -- red tape that wastes doctors’ time and adds to already unaffordable health care costs.

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Oregon the Focus for Next Stage of Health Reform

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Oregon approves Regence rate increase of 14.7%

Rates increases exceeded four times the rate of inflation last year for more than 400,000 Oregonians with individual, small group and portable insurance plans, according to a report released this week by the OSPIRG Foundation, an affiliate of the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Over 400,000 Oregonians Hit With Insurance Hikes 4X Inflation

Oregon health insurance companies raised average rates four times above the rate of inflation (14.2%) in 2008 on individual, small business and portability plans affecting 443,365 people.

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Pages

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.

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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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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.

News Release | OSPIRG

OSPIRG Foundation Researchers surveyed over 250 pharmacies across 11 states regarding cash prices for several common medications.  The report on the findings of this survey found extreme varations in price between different pharmacies.

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