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

Blog Post | Health Care

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

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Comments on PacificSource Health Plan's proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

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

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon's proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon’s 26,405 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 37.2%on average, and as high as 45%, if the premium rate hike proposed by LifeWise goes forward.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Malpractice Legislation Nearly Ready to See Daylight

After months of negotiations between trial lawyers and physicians, legislators are optimistic about reaching a consensus on medical malpractice reform when they gather in Salem next month. All along the goal has been to find a way of reducing lawsuits while creating a safer patient environment.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Regence rate hike scaled back

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Regence Rate Hike Not Justified

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Media Hit | Health Care

Regence BlueCross BlueShield defends proposed rate hike at Salem hearing

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Jesse Ellis O'Brien of the OSPIRG Foundation said Oregonians will face less choice and more costs as a result of the proposal.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Making the Grade

By providing better options and better information, and negotiating on behalf of its enrollees, the exchange can level the playing field for consumers.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on ODS Health Plan's Proposal to Increase Rates 9.94%

ODS Health Plan (ODS) is proposing to raise rates an average of 9.94%, impacting 26,333 Oregon consumers and families with individual plans, effective November 1, 2011. The nearly 10% rate increase comes after two back-to-back years of increases exceeding 17%. If approved, the average rate will have increased 52% for individual policyholders over the last three years.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Proposal to Increase Rates 22%

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon (Regence) is proposing to raise rates an average of 22.1% on individual plans. These are plans for people who do not have employer-based coverage. If approved, this rate increase will impact 59,477 Oregonians effective August 1, 2011.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Proposal to Raise Small Businesses Rates

Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield (Regence) is proposing a rate increase on small business plans, with an average increase of 10.8%, impacting 54,299 Oregonians, effective July 1, 2011.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace: Negotiating for a Better Deal

A well-made state exchange can help deliver lower costs for individuals and small businesses. Just as big businesses negotiate with insurers, using the bargaining power of their employees to push for lower premiums, so too can exchange enrollees benefit from a muscular exchange that negotiates on their behalf for better choices and lower costs.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Health Care

The Oregonian and health care costs | David Rosenfeld

If you haven't seen the Oregonian's editorial on the Senate's health insurance exchange bill, it's worth a read. Unfortunately, the Oregon Senate decided to prohibit the exchange from negotiating with insurance companies to get consumers a better deal (which I'm sure insurers are happy about.)

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What if health insurance companies had to stand before the public and clearly justify their rate hikes?

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For Health Net Customers | David Rosenfeld

If you are a Health Net customer, you may have received a notice in the mail this week. If you did, we urge you to open it.

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