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, Solid Waste

Right to Repair is a simple way to cut health care costs | Nathan Proctor

Cost containment is is a critical first step in addressing the deep faults in our health care system - it's hard to image fixing problems of access if we continue to be charged $15 for a Tylenol pill or $1,000 for a toothbrush. It turns out that overpriced equipment repair helps add to those inflated costs.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Health Care

Second recall of King Bio’s homeopathic drugs in the past month

King Bio Inc. issued the second significant voluntary recall since late July of their homeopathic drugs on Wednesday. Safety concerns over homeopathic drugs extend beyond King Bio as over the past several years, the FDA has issued recalls to several companies for a variety of health products from zinc-containing intranasal medicine to asthma drugs with toxic ingredients. 

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Providence’s proposed double-digit rate hike merits close scrutiny, may overcharge consumers

Providence Health Plan has proposed a rate hike of 13.6% on average—as high as 24.1% for some—on over 90,000 Oregonians. According to a new OSPIRG Foundation analysis released today, this rate hike proposal may overstate costs and overcharge consumers for health coverage.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

OSPIRG FOUNDATION COMMENTS ON THE PROVIDENCE HEALTH PLAN PROPOSAL FOR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH RATES EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2019

Providence Health Plan’s 91,425 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 13.6% on average, and as high as 24.1%, if the premium increase proposed by Providence goes forward. 

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Oregonians Need Better Information on Health Care Costs

Oregon consumers are paying more and have less ability to make informed decisions about their health care due to opaque prices for health care services, according to a report released today by OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the power of price transparency to contain costs and improve the experience of care for patients and health care providers, and identifies evidence-based policies and strategies for Oregon to advance health care price transparency. 

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Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Health Care

Second recall of King Bio’s homeopathic drugs in the past month

King Bio Inc. issued the second significant voluntary recall since late July of their homeopathic drugs on Wednesday. Safety concerns over homeopathic drugs extend beyond King Bio as over the past several years, the FDA has issued recalls to several companies for a variety of health products from zinc-containing intranasal medicine to asthma drugs with toxic ingredients. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Providence’s proposed double-digit rate hike merits close scrutiny, may overcharge consumers

Providence Health Plan has proposed a rate hike of 13.6% on average—as high as 24.1% for some—on over 90,000 Oregonians. According to a new OSPIRG Foundation analysis released today, this rate hike proposal may overstate costs and overcharge consumers for health coverage.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Oregonians Need Better Information on Health Care Costs

Oregon consumers are paying more and have less ability to make informed decisions about their health care due to opaque prices for health care services, according to a report released today by OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the power of price transparency to contain costs and improve the experience of care for patients and health care providers, and identifies evidence-based policies and strategies for Oregon to advance health care price transparency. 

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Statement on passage of HB 4005

In an overwhelming bipartisan vote in both chambers, Oregon lawmakers stood up to the powerful pharmaceutical corporations and did the right thing.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

CONSUMER ALERT: Surprise Medical Bills Ban Begins Today

As of today, Oregon consumers can breathe a little easier when they visit the hospital or emergency room.

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Pages

Result | Health Care

Health Insurance Legislation Passed

In 2015, with OSPIRG’s strong support, the Oregon Legislature passed the state’s first comprehensive consumer protections in health insurance networks. Until now, Oregon law provided few protections to ensure that health plans offer a network that can provide covered services in a timely fashion. The new law requires insurers to provide accurate, actionable provider network information to consumers.

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Result | 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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Result | Health Care

Governor Kitzhaber To Pursue Strengthened Scrutiny for Health Insurance Rates

Following an OSPIRG Foundation report recommending changes to Oregon's health insurance rate review process to make it more effective, Governor Kitzhaber has announced that his administration will take the next steps.

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Result | Health Care

MAKING HEALTH CARE AFFORDABLE

OSPIRG Health Care Advocate Laura Etherton helped lead efforts to require Oregon health insurers to meet tougher standards to prove premium increases are reasonable. Prompted in part by OSPIRG advocacy, Oregon officials scaled back a request by United Healthcare to raise health insurance rates by nearly 17%, saving 14,000 Oregonians a cumulative $4 million in 2011.

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Result | Health Care

Young People Now Covered

This year, the federal health care reforms that OSPIRG worked to win have started to pay off for young people. In the past, teens saw their premiums soar or were denied coverage when they turned 19, even if they’d been insured their whole lives. Now, they can remain on their parents’ plans until age 26. 

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

OSPIRG FOUNDATION COMMENTS ON THE PROVIDENCE HEALTH PLAN PROPOSAL FOR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH RATES EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2019

Providence Health Plan’s 91,425 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 13.6% on average, and as high as 24.1%, if the premium increase proposed by Providence goes forward. 

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Health Care

Improving Price Transparency

Opaque and unavailable prices for health care services violate the basic consumer right to know in advance about the price of goods or services. When consumers are asked to make decisions about care without access to meaningful price information, they are unable to make informed decisions in high-stakes situations that can profoundly affect their future health and financial security. Improving the price transparency of health care services isn’t just about fulfilling a basic consumer right – it is also a critical step in diagnosing and addressing the high cost of health care. 

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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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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

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

Providence Health Plan’s 105,406 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 29.6% on average, and as high as 72.3%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Providence goes forward. At the same time, the insurer is planning to scale back its service area drastically and no longer offer its plans in many regions of Oregon.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest's proposal to raise individual health insurance rates

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest’s 26,014 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 14.5% on average, and as high as 22.05%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Kaiser goes forward.

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Pages

Blog Post | Health Care, Solid Waste

Right to Repair is a simple way to cut health care costs | Nathan Proctor

Cost containment is is a critical first step in addressing the deep faults in our health care system - it's hard to image fixing problems of access if we continue to be charged $15 for a Tylenol pill or $1,000 for a toothbrush. It turns out that overpriced equipment repair helps add to those inflated costs.

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Blog Post | Democracy, Health Care, Tax

2018 Legislative Session Recap | Charlie Fisher

On March 3rd, the state legislature adjourned a four-week “short session.” See how our main priorities fared in the legislature.

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Blog Post | Health Care

MEASURE 101 PROTECTS CONSUMERS AND STABILIZES INSURANCE PREMIUMS | Jesse O'Brien

OSPIRG urges a YES vote on this important initiative, which will help contain health insurance rate hikes for Oregon families and individuals buying coverage on their own and fund critical programs that keep Oregonians healthy and out of the emergency room.

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Blog Post | Health Care

OPEN ENROLLMENT FOR 2018: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW | Jesse O'Brien

It’s that time again: Time to enroll in health insurance for next year. Health care has been a political football in Washington throughout the year, and there has been a lot of confusion and uncertainty about the future. With all of this background noise, it’s more important than ever to get the facts about how you and your family can get coverage that works for you. 

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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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