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 | 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
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Health Care

Our Statement on House Passage of the American Health Care Act

Today’s House vote is a big step in the wrong direction for American consumers and the American health care system. It’s no secret that there are plenty of problems with health care in America, but the AHCA in its current form not only won’t address the real problems in our health care system—it is likely to make them worse.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Consumer Tips: Keep Your Health Plan or Switch for 2014?

OSPIRG offers top tips and a checklist to help consumers weigh their options.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

Oregon Adopts New Rules To Slow Rise Of Health Care Costs

New Oregon Health Policy Board rules require that insurance companies better justify increases in their premiums.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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

Pages

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.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Raising the Bar: Strategies to contain cost and improve quality in Oregon’s health insurance exchange

Oregon’s new health insurance exchange has the potential to rein in the rising cost of health insurance and the underlying cost of care, while improving quality and giving consumers better choices. With the purchasing power of hundreds of thousands of Oregonians behind it, the exchange has the power to build better value for consumers, but it can only live up to its promise if it works from the beginning to raise the bar for health insurance in Oregon.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

At Stake: What's on the Line for Health Care Consumers in the Pending Supreme Court Case

The outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have far reaching impacts on consumers. The law is already working to improve the quality of care and reduce costs, with millions of Americans experiencing concrete improvements in their coverage. In this issue brief, we highlight the number of people the law has helped so far and the costs already saved to illustrate what’s at stake for Oregon consumers in the pending Supreme Court case.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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
Blog Post | Health Care

The Supreme Court and the High Cost of Rx Drugs | Jesse O'Brien

Everyone knows prescription drugs cost more than they should. But many people are surprised to learn about one of the key ways drug companies keep prices high: Paying off competitors to keep generics off the market.

> Keep Reading
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

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.

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.

Blog Post

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.

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