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

Will Oregon’s health reforms deliver results for consumers? A new study raises some tough questions. | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

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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Blog Post | Health Care

The Whole Shebang at a Glance: Proposed Health Insurance Rates for 2016 | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Here’s the skinny on OSPIRG Foundation’s new analysis of 2016 rates proposed by four Oregon insurers—LifeWise, Moda, PacificSource 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.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

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

PacificSource Health Plan members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 42.7% on average, and as high as 60.4%, if the premium rate hike proposed by PacificSource goes forward. PacificSource’s increase is the largest proposed by a major health insurance carrier in Oregon’s individual market since 2010, when new rules heightening scrutiny of health insurance rates were implemented.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

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

Regence BlueCross BlueShield’s membership of more than 24,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 12.3% on average, if the premium rate hike proposed by Regence goes forward. Some Regence members in transitional plans that will be discontinued at the end of the current year, which do not include the consumer protections of the federal health reform law, may see increases of up to 235% if they stick with Regence.

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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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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Regence rate hike scaled back

State officials have decided to trim Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon’s proposal to raise rates for more than 52,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans. Instead of the 9.6% rate hike proposed, the Oregon Insurance Division approved an 8.9% average increase, with some consumers seeing increases as high as 15.6%. Regence does not appear to have resolved many of the problems identified in OSPIRG Foundation's analysis of their proposal. In addition, elements of the decision were based on information that was not made available to the public.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Regence Rate Hike Not Justified

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon’s proposal to raise rates for Oregonians with individual health insurance plans does not measure up, according to a new OSPIRG Foundation analysis.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Regence BlueCross BlueShield defends proposed rate hike at Salem hearing

Escalating medical and prescription drug costs have given Regence BlueCross BlueShield executives little choice but to raise rates an average 9.6 percent for people who buy their own insurance, an executive told Oregon insurance regulators Monday.

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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Media Hit | Health Care

Regence Reduces Payments to Healthcare Professionals

July 26, 2012 -- Physicians and other healthcare professionals are being hit with a rate reduction from Regence BlueCross BlueShield on October 1, while the insurer is asking the Insurance Division to approve a 9.6 percent increase for roughly 53,000 people who buy their own coverage. A public hearing on that rate request will be held next Monday at 3 p.m. in Salem.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Providence Customers May See Rates Rise As Much As 18.6%

 

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 posted today by Providence Health Plans goes forward. Many customers will also see increased out-of-pocket costs.

 

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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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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace: Ensuring Accountability

The creation of a new health insurance exchange offers states an opportunity to improve health care and lower costs by pooling consumers’ bargaining power, creating economies of scale, and pushing insurers toward delivering lower costs and higher quality.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Health Net's Rate Increase Proposal

Health Net Health Plan of Oregon is proposing an average 8.27% rate increase on small business plans impacting 37,872 Oregonians, effective April 1, 2011.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on United HealthCare's Proposed Rate Hike

In this rate filing, United HealthCare does not appear to justify the proposed 16.8% increase.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Delivering on the Promise

The recently passed federal health care reform law will make significant changes in how health insurance and health care work for consumers, businesses, and local and state governments, as well as how insurers and providers operate.  But whether Americans experience improved care, lower costs and greater access depends largely on what happens next.

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