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 Foundation | Health Care

Proposed health insurance rate hikes up to 32.3% merit close scrutiny, raise stakes for containing rising health care costs

Many of Oregon’s biggest health insurers have proposed large double-digit rate hikes for 2017, and according to new OSPIRG Foundation analysis released today, these proposals highlight not only the need for close scrutiny of health insurance rates, but also the urgency of action to contain the rising cost of health care services.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Proposed Health Insurance Rates for 2017: What You Need to Know | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Here’s the skinny on OSPIRG Foundation’s new analysis of 2017 rates proposed by five Oregon insurers—Kaiser, Moda, PacificSource, Providence 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
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

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.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest's proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest’s 26,014 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 14.5% on average, and as high as 22.05%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Kaiser goes forward.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence BlueCross BlueShield's proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

Regence BlueCross BlueShield’s 14,811 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 17.9% on average, and as high as 36.1%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Regence goes forward.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Over $69 Million in Waste Cut from 2014 Health Insurance Premiums

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, according to a new OSPIRG Foundation report released today. The new cuts come after OSPIRG Foundation’s analysis questioned the justifications of five major rate proposals. Taken together with cuts made since new standards were implemented, state officials have required insurers to cut $155 million in waste since 2010.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

Hooray! Few Oregonians receive health insurance rebates

As health insurance companies spread $500 million in rebates to families around the U.S. this summer, Oregonians won’t represent a huge chunk of the recipients. That’s a good thing, argues Jesse Ellis O’Brien, health care advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG).

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

Oregonians pay on average 10 times more for top-selling brand name drugs

Oregonians have paid on average 10 times more for top-selling prescription drugs because of deals between drug manufacturers to delay production of generics. The 20 top prescription drugs that paid off their rivals to keep generics off the market resulted in average delays of five years that left patients paying up to 33 times as much for brand names, according to a report released Thursday from the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group and Community Catalyst.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Twenty Top Generic Drugs Delayed By Industry Payoffs

Oregonians with cancer, heart disease, epilepsy and other conditions have been forced to pay an average of 10 times more than necessary for at least 20 blockbuster drugs, according to a report released today by the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) and Community Catalyst.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

Oregon slashes 2014 health insurance premium requests by as much as 35 percent

Oregonians who buy their own insurance have the first clear indication of what 2014 premiums will look like after state regulators Tuesday slashed carriers' rate requests by as much as 35 percent.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Advancing Accountability, Cutting Health Care Waste

Since 2010, close scrutiny of health insurance rate hikes has cut over $80 million in waste and unjustified costs from health insurance premiums in Oregon, according to a new OSPIRG Foundation report. The report also identifies changes to Oregon’s rate review program that would effectively tackle the biggest driver of costs: waste in the health care delivery system.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on PacificSource Health Plans Proposal to Increase Small Group Health Insurance Rates

PacificSource Health Plans is proposing a rate increase on small business plans that will affect over 36,000 Oregonians, with an average increase of 8.62% and ranging up to 14.5% for some customers. If approved, the increase would go into effect January 1, 2013.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Providence Health Plans Proposal to Increase Individual Health Insurance Rates

More than 12,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 15.7% on average, and as high as 18.6%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Providence Health Plans goes forward. OSPIRG Foundation's analysis raises questions about the insurer's justification for the rate increase.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence BlueCross BlueShield's Proposal to Increase Individual Health Insurance Rates

More than 52,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 9.6% on average, and as high as 16.4%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon goes forward.

OSPIRG Foundation's analysis finds problems and information gaps in the insurer's filing.

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Pages

Blog Post | Health Care

A new way of shopping for health insurance gets a trial run | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

 

For the first time, the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange brought in consumers and outside experts to review their designs for their online marketplace. I was there, and here’s some of what I learned.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Here’s that Rx refill you didn’t order | Jesse O'Brien

Is your pharmacy refilling your prescription without your knowledge or approval, and billing your insurance company for the cost? If so, it’s the latest example of waste we shouldn't tolerate in our health care system.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

A wake-up call on health insurance costs | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Governor Kitzhaber’s office just released a report that should serve as a wake-up call for everyone in Oregon who is affected by the rising cost of health insurance.

This report just underlines what we’ve been saying all along—that it’s time to get serious about the cost of health care.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Regence alters course in response to consumer outcry | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

It's a difficult and confusing time to be a Regence customer. After announcing drastic network cutbacks last month, Regence altered course today in the wake of widespread criticism. But Regence customers can still expect to be paying more and getting less.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

What should your health plan cover?—Oregon wants to hear from YOU! | Jesse O'Brien

We all expect our health insurance to cover our basic health needs, but the significant differences in coverage between plans can be confusing and disempowering for consumers. What services should all health insurance in Oregon cover? Governor Kitzhaber recently convened a panel to answer just this question--and they want to hear from you!

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