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

A new program could cut over $81 million from Oregon health insurance premiums—but it’s at risk | Jesse O'Brien

Politicians in Salem are debating whether to refer to the ballot a new program that would contain health insurance premiums for Oregon consumers. OSPIRG runs the numbers to clarify what's at stake in this debate.

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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.

> 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.” 

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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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Pages

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.

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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.

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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.

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Media Hit | Health Care

OSPIRG: 16 Health Insurance Companies Need To Justify Rates

An Oregon consumer group says the 16 companies that have proposed insurance rates for the state's new health exchange haven't offered adequate justification for prices.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Proposed 2014 health insurance rates lack adequate justification

Sixteen Oregon health insurance companies have proposed their premium rates for next year, and according to new OSPIRG Foundation analysis released today, many have failed to adequately justify their prices.“With some insurers proposing rates twice as high as others for identical coverage, it is more critical than ever to scrutinize the basis for these rates,” said Jesse O’Brien, OSPIRG Foundation Health Care Advocate.

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Pages

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.

> Keep Reading
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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Pages

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.

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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.

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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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Blog Post | Health Care

Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Debates Strategies to Control Costs, Improve Quality | Jesse O'Brien

The future of health insurance in Oregon is at stake this summer.  The state is in the middle of an ambitious effort to remake health care that holds the promise of creating a better deal for consumers—if it’s done right.

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Blog Post | Health Care

CO-OP Health Insurance Promises Greater Consumer Control | David Rosenfeld

What if your health insurance company answered to you?  What if it could be held accountable for its policies and fees through member elections? 

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Blog Post

 

In 2018, OSPIRG helped pass a prescription drug price transparency program in order to better understand why prescriptions cost so much and to protect consumers from unexpected price increases. Now in its second year, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services released the results from 2020 reporting. Here are some key takeaways:

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.

Health Care

OSPIRG showcases Voices for Better Health Care

OSPIRG has launched Voices for Better Care, a website dedicated to those across the Beaver State who share our goal of improving the quality and value of Oregon health care. Stories shared on the site highlight common problems, such as high prescription drug costs or expensive insurance premiums, that personally affect thousands of Oregonians.

 

Health Care

Here's what you can do if you receive a surprise medical bill

For those who receive medical treatment at a hospital or emergency room within their insurance network, surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers are costly, unfair and surprisingly common. That's why OSPIRG has launched a consumer education campaign on what surprise medical bills are and what rights and protections Oregonians have.

 

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."

 
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