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

Comment on Kaiser Foundation Health Plan's Proposed Individual Health Insurance Rates

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest has proposed premium rates for its individual and family plans for 2014. Since its initial rate filing, the insurer has submitted a proposal to reduce those rates. OSPIRG Foundation's analysis of Kaiser’s initial filing and the supplemental information provided raises some concerns about the insurer's proposal and its justification.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comment on BridgeSpan Health Company's Proposed Individual Health Insurance Rates

BridgeSpan Health Company—a new health insurer affiliated with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon through a parent company, Cambia Health Solutions—has proposed premium rates for its individual and family plans for 2014. OSPIRG Foundation's analysis raises questions about the insurer's justification for the proposal, and about BridgeSpan's efforts to reduce costs by cutting waste and focusing on prevention.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on LifeWise Health Plan's Proposal for Individual Health Insurance Rates

LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon has proposed premium rates for its individual and family plans for 2014. After careful analysis of LifeWise’s initial filing and the supplemental information provided, OSPIRG Foundation's analysis questions whether the insurer has provided sufficient information to evaluate the justification for their proposed rate.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comment on Moda Health Plan's Proposed Individual Health Insurance Rates

 

Moda Health Plan—formerly known as ODS Health Plan—has proposed premium rates for its individual and family plans for 2014. Moda’s proposed rates are the lowest filed for an insurer in Oregon’s Individual market. While Moda’s product is inexpensive relative to the competition, it remains critical to examine the justification for their rate.

 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Competition and Transparency Bring Down Health Insurance Costs—Here’s the Proof | Jesse O'Brien

Something remarkable just happened to health insurance costs here in Oregon. Last week, after the state’s health insurers posted their proposed premium rates for next year, two insurers publicly reversed course and moved to cut their prices.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post

 

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:

News Release | OSPIRG

The maker of Humira, the world’s best-selling drug, faces a new legal challenge over alleged anticompetitive tactics. Monday, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) filed an amicus brief in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that AbbVie’s strategies of reverse payment settlements and creating “patent thickets” have delayed the entry of biologically similar generic drugs (biosimilars) onto the market, costing Americans billions of dollars. 

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

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.

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is putting incredible stress on the U.S. medical system, including the equipment that is essential to diagnose and treat patients, such as ventilators. As that equipment is pressed into round-the-clock use, biomedical repair technicians face increasing pressure to maintain and repair all that equipment. However, in too many cases, manufacturers limit access to the essential tools and information these repair experts need. A new report by the OSPIRG Foundation, Hospital Repair Restrictions, details the challenges that medical professionals face as a result of device manufacturers setting up barriers to repair, and outlines steps to take to help hospitals. 

News Release | OSPIRG

OSPIRG delivered a letter to Gov. Kate Brown Monday, signed by 326 hospital repair experts from around the country, including 6 in Oregon, calling for manufacturers to stop withholding what technicians need to fix medical equipment like ventilators. It’s part of OSPIRG’s larger Right to Repair Campaign, which aims to remove unnecessary barriers to repair that drive up costs for product owners and increase electronic waste. 

Health Care

Oregon drug prices five times higher than in other countries, report finds

A prescription medication in Oregon, on average, costs five times as much as the most expensive international price. OSPIRG is calling on the Department of Consumer and Business Services  to improve transparency by compelling drug manufacturers to publish their profits, among other information.

 

Health Care | U.S. PIRG

Searching for common ground on caregiving

In our politically divided time, it's difficult to see where we can find common ground. But the need to value the work of caring for our loved ones is one such place. PIRG Senior Director of New Economy Campaigns Evan Preston explains in his blog, "Toward Consensus on Caregiving."

 
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