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!

**********

[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 | U.S. PIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Health Care

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

King Bio Inc. issued the second significant voluntary recall since late July of their homeopathic drugs on Wednesday. Safety concerns over homeopathic drugs extend beyond King Bio as over the past several years, the FDA has issued recalls to several companies for a variety of health products from zinc-containing intranasal medicine to asthma drugs with toxic ingredients. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Providence’s proposed double-digit rate hike merits close scrutiny, may overcharge consumers

Providence Health Plan has proposed a rate hike of 13.6% on average—as high as 24.1% for some—on over 90,000 Oregonians. According to a new OSPIRG Foundation analysis released today, this rate hike proposal may overstate costs and overcharge consumers for health coverage.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

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

Providence Health Plan’s 91,425 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 13.6% on average, and as high as 24.1%, if the premium increase proposed by Providence goes forward. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Oregonians Need Better Information on Health Care Costs

Oregon consumers are paying more and have less ability to make informed decisions about their health care due to opaque prices for health care services, according to a report released today by OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the power of price transparency to contain costs and improve the experience of care for patients and health care providers, and identifies evidence-based policies and strategies for Oregon to advance health care price transparency. 

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Health Care

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. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Providence’s proposed 22.7% rate hike merits close scrutiny, underscores stakes for consumers in health reform debate

Providence Health Plan has proposed a rate hike of 22.7% on average—as high as 68.3% for some—on over 104,000 Oregonians. According to a new OSPIRG Foundation analysis released today, this rate hike proposal highlights not only the need for close scrutiny of health insurance rates, but also the high stakes for consumers in the federal health reform debate and the urgency of action to contain the rising cost of health care services.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Health Care

Our Statement on Senate Health Care Bill

Statement by Jesse Ellis O’Brien, OSPIRG Health Care Advocate, on public release of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act.” 

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Time is running out: Oregon legislature must take action to lower Rx prices

With less than a month left to go in the 2017 legislative session, state lawmakers have so far failed to pass the Oregon Affordable Drug Prices Act (HB 2387) to prevent drug company price gouging, increase transparency and lower prices. This important bill passed the House Health Care Committee in April but has been stalled thanks to the efforts of the powerful pharmaceutical industry, whose lobbyists have been working to stop the bill. Meanwhile, prices for medications increase month after month.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

OSPIRG Applauds Passage of HB 2339

Today, the Oregon Legislature's passed of House Bill 2339, urgently needed legislation to protect Oregon consumers from large surprise medical bills. The critical consumer protection measure now heads to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Health Care

Great News for Consumers: Anthem Drops Bid to Take Over Cigna

This morning, health insurance giant Anthem dropped its troubled bid to take over one of its top competitors, Cigna. A February district court decision to block the proposed merger on anti-trust grounds was recently upheld by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, but with Anthem’s decision today, this anti-competitive takeover bid is finally laid to rest. This development comes after months of work by OSPIRG and a broad coalition of consumer and health care groups, urging close scrutiny of the merger from state and federal regulators and raising questions and concerns about the potential impact on consumers.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company's proposal to increase small group health insurance rates

Most of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company’s almost 17,000 small group members, from over 1,300 small businesses across Oregon, will see rate increases of 11.8% on average, and as high as 19.2%, if the premium rate hike proposed by United is approved.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Health Net's proposal to increase individual health insurance rates

Health Net’s individual members will see an increase of 8.3% on average, ranging as high as 10% for some customers, if the premium rate hike proposed by the insurer is approved.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG | Health Care

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Tips for consumers deciding whether to keep their individual health insurance plan or switch to a new plan for 2014.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Accountability in Action

Close scrutiny of proposed health insurance premiums for 2014 has cut over $69 million in waste and unjustified costs from premiums for Oregon consumers and small businesses. This brings the total waste cut by Oregon’s rate review program to over $155 million since 2010, providing more evidence that Oregon’s effort to create accountability for health insurers is starting to pay off.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG | Democracy, Health Care

2013 Legislative Vote Chart

Want to know how your Oregon state legislators voted on key bills related to democracy, health care and government transparency during the 2013 legislative session? Download OSPIRG's vote chart.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Health Care

New data on health care prices raises questions for policymakers | Jesse O'Brien

A New York Times report released yesterday put the spotlight on health care prices. We all know that health care still costs too much, but too often, we have little information about how much it does cost and why.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Open Enrollment: Shop Before You Buy, Shop Before You Renew | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

It’s that time again: Time to enroll in health insurance for 2016. Health care and health insurance remain in the news in Oregon, and with everything that’s happening, it’s more important than ever to get the facts about what’s happening and how you and your family can get coverage that works for you. Here’s our guide to Oregon’s open enrollment period, which starts November 1.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Will Oregon’s health reforms deliver results for consumers? A new study raises some tough questions. | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

According to a new study, Oregon’s efforts to transform health care are not yet delivering on their potential to improve the consumer experience.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

The Whole Shebang at a Glance: Proposed Health Insurance Rates for 2016 | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Here’s the skinny on OSPIRG Foundation’s new analysis of 2016 rates proposed by four Oregon insurers—LifeWise, Moda, PacificSource and Regence. There’s some good news, some concerning news, and some very concerning news, but the best news of all is that thanks to Oregon’s health insurance rate review process, the insurers don’t get the last word.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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. 

News Release | OSPIRG

Oregon's Drug Price Transparency Program has released its first annual report.  The progam found that Oregonians, on average, pay five times the highest international price for prescriptions.  

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."

 
View AllRSS Feed

Support Us

Your donation supports OSPIRG’s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates, and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code



OSPIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.