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

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comment on Moda Health Plan's Proposed Individual Health Insurance Rates

 

Moda Health Plan—formerly known as ODS Health Plan—has proposed premium rates for its individual and family plans for 2014. Moda’s proposed rates are the lowest filed for an insurer in Oregon’s Individual market. While Moda’s product is inexpensive relative to the competition, it remains critical to examine the justification for their rate.

 

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Competition and Transparency Bring Down Health Insurance Costs—Here’s the Proof | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Something remarkable just happened to health insurance costs here in Oregon. Last week, after the state’s health insurers posted their proposed premium rates for next year, two insurers publicly reversed course and moved to cut their prices.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

$80 Million In Health Insurance Waste Cut Since 2010

Since 2010, close scrutiny of health insurance rate hikes has cut over $80 million in waste and unjustified costs from health insurance premiums in Oregon, according to an OSPIRG Foundation report released today. The report also identifies changes to Oregon’s rate review program that would effectively tackle the biggest driver of costs: waste in the health care delivery system.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Advancing Accountability, Cutting Health Care Waste

Since 2010, close scrutiny of health insurance rate hikes has cut over $80 million in waste and unjustified costs from health insurance premiums in Oregon, according to a new OSPIRG Foundation report. The report also identifies changes to Oregon’s rate review program that would effectively tackle the biggest driver of costs: waste in the health care delivery system.

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Blog Post | Health Care

The Supreme Court and the High Cost of Rx Drugs | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Everyone knows prescription drugs cost more than they should. But many people are surprised to learn about one of the key ways drug companies keep prices high: Paying off competitors to keep generics off the market.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Testing a new reflex on health care

Earlier this year, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon found itself under a powerful spotlight. At a public hearing -- the first such hearing in more than two decades -- Regence had to justify its 22.1 percent rate increase request to state regulators, as well as to the more than 150 Oregonians in attendance.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Does Your State Even Care What You Pay for Health Insurance?

After watching health insurance rates balloon in the last several years, you might wonder who has the consumer's back. States are largely responsible for overseeing how much health insurance companies charge for coverage, but they're all over the map in terms of how hard they scrutinize proposed premiums.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Health insurance premiums

Oregon health insurers are having a harder time raising premiums now than they have in the past.

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Media Hit | Health Care

An insurance regulator's 'aha' moment

Teresa Miller was dubious. What value could a public hearing add to the state of Oregon's highly technical review of a Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon's rate increase request?

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Oregon Officials Cut Regence Rate Hike from 22.1% to 12.8%

We commend the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services for shielding 60,000 Regence customers from what could have been a devastating 22.1% rate hike this year.

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PRIORITY ACTION

Tell the Governor: Hold insurers accountable for cutting waste and prioritizing prevention. 

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