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

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.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

OSPIRG Foundation Comments on the Providence Health Plan Proposal for Individual Health Rates Effective January 2018

Providence Health Plan’s 104,747 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 22.7% on average, and as high as 68.3%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Providence goes forward.

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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.” 

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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.

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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.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Four proposed health insurance rate hikes lack adequate justification

New OSPIRG Foundation analysis of 2015 rates proposed by four Oregon insurers—Moda, PacificSource, United and Health Net—identifies problems and gaps in the insurers’ filings, and calls for increased scrutiny of insurers’ efforts to cut waste and improve quality of care.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Few Oregonians will receive health insurance rebate checks this year—Here’s why that’s a good thing | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

This summer, consumers and businesses nationwide will receive $500 million in rebates from health insurance companies. Only 1 in every 200 Oregonians will see a dime as a result of this program, and that’s great news for our state. Here’s why.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pages

Blog Post

The Fifth Circuit head oral arguments in the Texas v. Azar Lawsuit on July 9, 2019.  Oregon has a lot at stake if the Affordable Care Act is overturned - hundreds of thousands of consumers will face higher premiums or lose insurance outright, and dozens of important cosumer protections could be rolled back.

News Release | OSPIRG

Oregon's Senate voted unanimously to advance HB 2658 to the Governor's desk, 25-0.  This bill requires pharmaceutical manufactuers to provide 60-days advance notice before implementing substantial price hikes on prescription drugs.  Advance notice gives patients and health benefit companies time to plan around price hikes instead of being blindsided.  A similar policy in California has bee associated with rollbacks of several planned price increases over the summer of 2018.

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.

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