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. By carefully scrutinizing rate hike proposals for things like administrative bloat, we’ve already helped cut over 150 million dollars from proposed rate increases 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. [4] 

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, July 2013, Accountability in Action.

[4] See here for an example of a clinic in Oregon that is doing this the right way.

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

Open Enrollment: Here’s What You Need to Know | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

The countdown is on for enrolling in health insurance for 2015. With all of the changes coming to health care in Oregon, it’s more important than ever to get the facts about what’s happening and how you and your family can get coverage that works for you. Here’s our guide to Oregon’s open enrollment period, which starts November 15.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Over $24 Million in Waste Cut from 2015 Health Insurance Premiums

Close scrutiny of proposed health insurance premiums for 2015 has cut over $24 million in waste and unjustified costs from premiums for Oregon consumers and small businesses, according to a new OSPIRG Foundation report released today. The cuts come after OSPIRG Foundation’s analysis questioned the justifications of four major rate proposals. Taken together with cuts made since new standards were implemented, state officials have required insurers to cut $179 million in waste since 2010.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Accountability in Action: Rate Review Cuts Over $24 Million in Waste from 2015 Health Insurance Premiums

Close scrutiny of proposed health insurance premiums for 2015 has cut over $24 million in waste and unjustified costs from premiums for Oregon consumers and small businesses. This brings the total waste cut by Oregon’s rate review program to over $179 million since 2010.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Health Insurance Rates for 2015 Announced Today | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Today, the Oregon Insurance Division—the state’s insurance regulator—announced its decisions on health insurers’ rate proposals for next year. These decisions come after OSPIRG Foundation’s in-depth analysis raised numerous questions about some of the larger proposed rate increases.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Four proposed health insurance rate hikes lack adequate justification

New OSPIRG Foundation analysis of 2015 rates proposed by four Oregon insurers—Moda, PacificSource, United and Health Net—identifies problems and gaps in the insurers’ filings, and calls for increased scrutiny of insurers’ efforts to cut waste and improve quality of care.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Over $24 Million in Waste Cut from 2015 Health Insurance Premiums

Close scrutiny of proposed health insurance premiums for 2015 has cut over $24 million in waste and unjustified costs from premiums for Oregon consumers and small businesses, according to a new OSPIRG Foundation report released today. The cuts come after OSPIRG Foundation’s analysis questioned the justifications of four major rate proposals. Taken together with cuts made since new standards were implemented, state officials have required insurers to cut $179 million in waste since 2010.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Four proposed health insurance rate hikes lack adequate justification

New OSPIRG Foundation analysis of 2015 rates proposed by four Oregon insurers—Moda, PacificSource, United and Health Net—identifies problems and gaps in the insurers’ filings, and calls for increased scrutiny of insurers’ efforts to cut waste and improve quality of care.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Consumer Tips: Keep Your Health Plan or Switch for 2014?

OSPIRG offers top tips and a checklist to help consumers weigh their options.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Oregon Adopts New Rules To Slow Rise Of Health Care Costs

New Oregon Health Policy Board rules require that insurance companies better justify increases in their premiums.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG | 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.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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. 

> Keep Reading

Plan to cut health care waste moves ahead in Oregon

Members of the Oregon Health Policy Board approved a plan to cut health care administrative waste and save Oregonians $100 million per year in the process.

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Pages

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Accountability in Action: Rate Review Cuts Over $24 Million in Waste from 2015 Health Insurance Premiums

Close scrutiny of proposed health insurance premiums for 2015 has cut over $24 million in waste and unjustified costs from premiums for Oregon consumers and small businesses. This brings the total waste cut by Oregon’s rate review program to over $179 million since 2010.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

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

Moda Health Plan’s membership of more than 95,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see double-digit rate hikes of 12.5% on average, and as high as 13.7%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Moda goes forward.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on PacificSource Health Plans' proposal to increase individual health insurance rates

Most of PacificSource Health Plan’s customer base of more than 12,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see double-digit rate hikes if the premium rate hike proposed by PacificSource goes forward. Had the rate been approved as initially filed, PacificSource’s members would have seen increases of 15.9% on average, ranging as high as 24%. However, shortly after filing, the insurer announced that the initial rate proposal had incorporated a major error, and proposed a new, lower average rate increase of 10.8%, ranging as high as 18.7%.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company's proposal to increase small group health insurance rates

Most of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company’s almost 17,000 small group members, from over 1,300 small businesses across Oregon, will see rate increases of 11.8% on average, and as high as 19.2%, if the premium rate hike proposed by United is approved.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Health Net's proposal to increase individual health insurance rates

Health Net’s individual members will see an increase of 8.3% on average, ranging as high as 10% for some customers, if the premium rate hike proposed by the insurer is approved.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Health Care

Open Enrollment: Here’s What You Need to Know | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

The countdown is on for enrolling in health insurance for 2015. With all of the changes coming to health care in Oregon, it’s more important than ever to get the facts about what’s happening and how you and your family can get coverage that works for you. Here’s our guide to Oregon’s open enrollment period, which starts November 15.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Health Insurance Rates for 2015 Announced Today | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Today, the Oregon Insurance Division—the state’s insurance regulator—announced its decisions on health insurers’ rate proposals for next year. These decisions come after OSPIRG Foundation’s in-depth analysis raised numerous questions about some of the larger proposed rate increases.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

The Whole Shebang at a Glance: Proposed Health Insurance Rates for 2015 | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Here’s the skinny on OSPIRG Foundation’s new analysis of 2015 rates proposed by four Oregon insurers—Moda, PacificSource, United and Health Net. 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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Blog Post | Health Care

Looking for health coverage that won’t break the bank? Get the facts about the health premium tax credit | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Life without health insurance can be more expensive. Knowing the facts and learning about all of your options can make all the difference when it comes to getting the coverage you need. One option we want to make sure everyone knows about is the new Health Premium Tax Credit.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Health Care

Thousand Dollar Ointment (No, it’s not from Sephora) | David Rosenfeld

Lately, it has seemed like everyone I know has a story about an irrational hospital bill. Here’s one from my friend, Dave.

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