Post the Price, Please

OSPIRG is working to make sure consumers get to see health care prices up front.

SECRET PRICES CONTRIBUTE TO HIGH COSTS

 Recent studies show that one third of every dollar we spend on health care is wasted on something that doesn’t improve our health.[1] One reason why is that hospitals get to keep their prices a secret. As a result, medical prices are often hidden from patients, and many contain extra charges and surprising fees. Take a look at some of these examples:

IT’S TIME FOR UP FRONT PRICES

We can bring down the cost of care by getting prices up front. To that end, OSPIRG urges Oregon policymakers to take action to require hospitals to post their prices and to give patients the price of a recommended procedure in real time. It's common sense, but it will likely take big public support to overcome industry lobbyists.


 
[1] Institute of Medicine at the National Academies, Sept 2012, "Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America".
[2] CNN, March 2010, "Prescription for Waste" 
[3] OSPIRG blog, October 2013, "Thousand Dollar Ointment".
[4] Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data

Issue updates

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Will Wells Fargo CEO Tell Senate "No Clawbacks" of Exec's Golden Parachute? | Ed Mierzwinski

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf goes before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday (9/20) to explain the recent $185 million in combined civil penalties by the CFPB and other regulators over a sales goals incentive scandal that led to employees opening some 2 million fake, secret accounts without the knowledge of customers. How will he respond to the growing public clamor for a clawback of bonuses paid his top retail executive Carrie Tolstedt, whose retirement with a $125 million golden parachute package had been announced earlier this summer? 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Wall Street Ramps Up Attacks on Wall Street Reform | Ed Mierzwinski

On Friday, the House overwhelmingly approved a Wall Street-driven proposal to weaken oversight of private equity firms, taking a chunk out of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. But wait, there's so much more: On Tuesday the House Financial Services Committee takes up the so-called "Financial Choice Act," which eviscerates most of Dodd-Frank's key reforms, from stripping powers of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to repealing the Volcker Rule, which reins in risky betting practices that use depositors' money. As for the CFPB (which just this week issued its biggest fine to date, $100 million against Wells Fargo Bank for opening hundreds of thousands of fake and secret consumer accounts to meet sales goals), the proposal would defund and defang it and delay or stop its efforts to rein in unfair practices of payday lenders, debt collectors and banks. Many of the Financial Choice Act's provisions also pose threats as budget bill "riders."

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Predatory Loans & Predatory Loan Complaints

This is the seventh in a series of reports that review complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In this report, we explore consumer complaints about predatory loans, categorized in the database as payday loans, installment loans, and auto title loans.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Good news! CFPB Adding Consumer Ratings of Company Responses to Complaint Database | Ed Mierzwinski

The CFPB is making a good public consumer complaint database better. In 2015, the CFPB added optional consumer narratives, or stories, to its public consumer complaint database, giving other consumers, researchers and even other firms a new way to help study complaint patterns. Now, it will give consumers a chance to “rate the company’s handling of his or her complaint on a one-to-five scale and provide a narrative description in support of the rating.”

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

More Than 350,000 Urge KFC to Prevent Abuse of Antibiotics in Its Chicken Supply

Today, representatives from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Food Animals Concern Trust (FACT) will deliver more than 350,000 petitions from consumers nationwide to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s (KFC) headquarters in Louisville, while calling on the nation’s largest fried chicken chain to end the routine use of antibiotics by chicken producers in its supply chain. The petition signatures were also collected by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and CREDO Action. 

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Over 400,000 Oregonians Hit With Insurance Hikes 4X Inflation

Oregon health insurance companies raised average rates four times above the rate of inflation (14.2%) in 2008 on individual, small business and portability plans affecting 443,365 people.

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Media Hit | Budget, Democracy, Tax

OPEN STATE'S BOOKS, POLITICAL RIVALS AGREE

Saying that muckraking isn't a partisan issue, an unlikely quartet of legislators has latched onto a modern-day way to open up the state's books: by searchable database.

 

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Oregon Health Reform Plan Takes on Rising Costs

Consumer and small business leaders gathered together just before the Oregon Health Fund Board’s final public hearing to call attention to the Board’s efforts to make health care more affordable for Oregonians.

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News Release | OSPIRG

OSPIRG is calling on Governor Kate Brown to hit the reset button on the state’s response to containing the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as cases surge to concerning levels. More than 1,000 health professionals nationwide, including 24 from Oregon, have now signed an open letter to America’s decision makers urging them to shut it down, start over, and do it right this time to contain COVID-19 and save lives.

Blog Post

OSPIRG has been tracking critical public health metrics around the containment of COVID-19 in Oregon, building on the work of COVID Exit Strategy, a group of national public health and crisis experts. Currently, Oregon is rated “Yellow” overall - while Oregon has fared better against the coronavirus than many states, so far, keeping it that way will require quick intervention to avoid spiraling out of control.

News Release | OSPIRG

Amid uncontrolled spread of the novel coronavirus in rural Oregon and the metro area, OSPIRG and top health experts delivered a letter Friday to Governor Brown and state leaders, calling on her to shut down hard hit counties, and start over with new policies to thwart COVID-19 and do it right. The letter calls for implementing stay at home restrictions to slow the virus, while increasing testing capacity and production of personal protective equipment.

News Release

OSPIRG issued corrections for County COVID trends report dated 7-17-2020.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

John Lewis was an American hero.

Most people knew him as a champion of civil rights, whether as a young man marching for freedom on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965 or serving as the “conscience of the Congress” for the past 33 years. Yet John Lewis was also a dependable ally on public interest issues, a tenacious advocate of voting reform and open government, consumer protection and a healthy environment.

Public Health

Responding to the COVID crisis

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, we need to work together to ensure that our government has a coordinated, strategic response to safeguard the public’s health, protect consumers from emerging dangers and ensure people can still participate fully in our democracy.

 

Consumer Protection

As the pandemic goes on, consumer complaints continue at a record pace

A U.S. PIRG Education Fund analysis has found that since March 2020, public consumer complaints at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have skyrocketed, setting a new monthly record each month. During this period, one in five complaints concerning mortgages, student loans or vehicle financing has mentioned the coronavirus crisis.

 

Public Health

Oregon pauses reopening as COVID-19 cases surge

Gov. Kate Brown announced that Oregon will wait one more week to reopen after an increase in COVID-19 cases. We commend Gov. Brown for sticking to a plan built on scientific evidence and we continue to support states following the recommendations of health experts to safely reopen.

 

COVID-19

Oregon legislators join national call for an end to coronavirus-related online price gouging

On April 9, 18 Oregon state legislators joined U.S. PIRG Education Fund in sending a letter urging prominent online retailers to prevent price gouging on their platforms. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the cost of critical health supplies has spiked dramatically on online platforms, analysis released by OSPIRG Foundation found.

 
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