Health Insurance Alert

WE CAN HELP — Our health care policy experts are working to provide you with the resources you need to make the most of new health care consumer protections and tools.

How To Get The Best Deal

Newly uninsured and looking for coverage?  Deciding if your current plan still gives you the best value? Consumers have new options and protections. Know the facts.

1. Check out your options at the Health Insurance Marketplace. The plans include coverage for doctor visits, hospitalizations, maternity care, emergency room care, prescriptions and more.
You can sign up right away, and don’t have to wait until the next open enrollment period if you’ve recently lost coverage, or in other special cases.

Online: HealthCare.gov

Toll free: (800) 318-2596  TTY: (855) 889-4325

2. Find out about financial help. You may qualify for financial help to reduce monthly costs, and could be eligible for free or low-cost coverage. Check your eligibility online at HealthCare.gov or by calling one of the numbers above.

3. Get help comparing options and signing up. Take advantage of expert in-person help at no cost to you. Find a list of people who can help you and make an appointment online.

4. Compare plans. Key considerations include the monthly premium, potential out-of-pocket costs, provider network and independent quality ratings.

5. Don’t take no for an answer. Insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

6. Switch plans if you want to. In the health insurance marketplace, every year at open enrollment you can stick with your current plan, or switch to a new one.

7. Learn more. Check out our detailed Health Insurance 101 guide, So You Need Health Insurance. Now What?

8. Keep in touch. Check for updates on our website, and tell us about your experience. We want to hear what you think so we can spot trends and advocate for ongoing improvements. Contact us.

 

Health Care Consumer Protections

If you have coverage, you should know about your rights under the health care law, including:

  • Children and young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until age 26
  • Free preventive care, including check-ups and vaccinations
  • Insurance companies can’t set a lifetime cap on what they’ll pay if you get sick
  • Rebates if your insurance company spends less than 80% of premiums on care
  • No more annual caps on what your insurer will pay if you get
  • Insurance companies can’t charge women more than men for coverage

See more information about the health care law, the Affordable Care Act

Issue updates

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Public Health

In Your Face

The negative health effects of asbestos are well-known. Most people may associate asbestos contamination with the workplace or decades-old construction material, but alarmingly, recent media reports have found asbestos contamination in kids' makeup from popular stores. PIRG decided to do its own asbestos testing at an accredited laboratory.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

OSPIRG's Jesse O'Brien Awarded "Health Care Value Advocate of the Year"

Today, OSPIRG Policy Director Jesse O’Brien was awarded “Health Care Value Advocate of the Year,” in recognition of his years of leadership advocating for policies and strategies to improve the value proposition of health care for consumers.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Target Removes Lead-Laden Fidget Spinners from Store Shelves

Today, Target announced that it will be removing two fidget spinner models that contain well over the legal limit of lead for children’s toys from its store shelves. Target had initially balked at our request to do so, citing a Consumer Product Safety Commission rule stating that general use products directed at adults don’t need to follow the same lead guidelines as children’s products directed at children 12 and under. These two models of fidget spinners, the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass and the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal, were labeled for ages 14 and up.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

High Levels of Lead Found in Fidget Spinners

U.S. PIRG Education Fund found fidget spinners with high levels of lead for sale at Target stores across the country. Parents and consumers need to know about these lead-laden toys, especially because we alerted Target and the toy’s distributor, Bulls i Toy, to our findings, but they refused to address the problem. The toxic fidget spinners are still available both in toy aisles at Target stores and on its website. Incredibly, Target and Bulls i Toy defend their inaction by pointing to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) declaration that fidget spinners are NOT technically “children’s products” subject to legal limits for lead.

> Keep Reading

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L'Oréal: Pledge to Be Toxic-Free

Today, OSPIRG Foundation, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP)), and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families delivered more than 150,000 petition signatures calling on the multinational cosmetic giant L’Oréal USA to eliminate cancer causing chemicals and to disclose its secret “fragrance” chemicals. 

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News Release | Public Health

Statement on Unilever’s Decision to Disclose Fragrance Ingredients in Personal Care Products

OSPIRG Foundation applauds personal care product giant Unilever US, the maker of popular brands like Dove and Axe, for its announcement today that it will increase fragrance ingredient transparency in its personal care brands.

> Keep Reading

Statement on Procter & Gamble’s New Preservative Tracker in Personal Care Products

Personal care product giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) recently unveiled a new preservative tracker, which lets consumers know which preservatives are included in various categories of P&G’s products, such as baby wipes, skin care, and hair care products. Consumers can search the tracker by ingredient or by product type.

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Proposed health insurance rate hikes up to 32.3% merit close scrutiny, raise stakes for containing rising health care costs

Many of Oregon’s biggest health insurers have proposed large double-digit rate hikes for 2017, and according to new OSPIRG Foundation analysis released today, these proposals highlight not only the need for close scrutiny of health insurance rates, but also the urgency of action to contain the rising cost of health care services.

> 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.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence BlueCross BlueShield's Proposal to Increase Individual Health Insurance Rates

More than 52,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 9.6% on average, and as high as 16.4%, if the premium rate hike proposed by Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon goes forward.

OSPIRG Foundation's analysis finds problems and information gaps in the insurer's filing.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Raising the Bar: Strategies to contain cost and improve quality in Oregon’s health insurance exchange

Oregon’s new health insurance exchange has the potential to rein in the rising cost of health insurance and the underlying cost of care, while improving quality and giving consumers better choices. With the purchasing power of hundreds of thousands of Oregonians behind it, the exchange has the power to build better value for consumers, but it can only live up to its promise if it works from the beginning to raise the bar for health insurance in Oregon.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

At Stake: What's on the Line for Health Care Consumers in the Pending Supreme Court Case

The outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have far reaching impacts on consumers. The law is already working to improve the quality of care and reduce costs, with millions of Americans experiencing concrete improvements in their coverage. In this issue brief, we highlight the number of people the law has helped so far and the costs already saved to illustrate what’s at stake for Oregon consumers in the pending Supreme Court case.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on PacificSource's Small Business Rate Hike Proposal

PacificSource is proposing to increase rates 5.56% on average, affecting 35,224 Oregonians enrolled in small business plans. If approved, this rate increase will have wide ranging impacts. Most enrollees will see increases of between 6% and 10%. Some will see increases of up to 11.2%. Over 27% will see increases of between 8% and 14%.

 

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Blog Post | Health Care

Regence alters course in response to consumer outcry | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

It's a difficult and confusing time to be a Regence customer. After announcing drastic network cutbacks last month, Regence altered course today in the wake of widespread criticism. But Regence customers can still expect to be paying more and getting less.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Regence Rate Increase Hearing

Health insurance premiums are going up again. The latest request for a rate hike came from Regence for their small group plans. The average increase requested over the next year will be 8%, but some businesses will see increases in excess of 15%. At OSPIRG Foundation, we’re concerned that Regence has not adequately justified this increase request.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 48 million Americans contract a food borne illness yearly with 128,000 people hospitalized and 3,000 dead as a result of these illnesses. 

The food safety system uses two lines of defense to help prevent this threat. First a series of inspections and enforcement measures identify hazardous products before they make it to store shelves and Americans’ plates. Second, when a foodborne pathogen or other threats are still sold for consumption, the recall system attempts to remove the food from store shelves as quickly as possible and alerts consumers about the hazard. While not all illnesses are connected to a source, removing contaminated food from the market helps protect the public.

News Release | OSPIRG

The Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill this Tuesday banning online and other remote sales of vaping products.

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

People living in the United States have access to some of the best medical care in the world, from life-saving drugs to cutting-edge surgical techniques. But our system is deeply flawed, with spiraling costs forcing many Americans to spend more on care and often receiving poor quality care for all the extra money spent.

News Release | OSPIRG

Oregon's Drug Price Transparency Program has released its first annual report.  The progam found that Oregonians, on average, pay five times the highest international price for prescriptions.  

Blog Post

OSPIRG Health Care Advocate Numi Griffith breaks down how health insurance reduced her medical bills by over $16,000 after a climbing accident.

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