Health Insurance Rate Watch Project

OSPIRG Foundation’s Health Insurance Rate Watch Project is conducting in-depth analysis of insurers' rate hike requests, sharing our findings with state officials and the general public, and encouraging the public to participate in Oregon’s rate review process.

Scrutinizing Health Insurance Rate Hikes

Oregonians have reached a breaking point on health care costs: At the current rate, the cost of covering the average Oregon family could rise to more than $21,000 a year by 2019. [1] At the same time, studies show that a third or more of every dollar we spend on health care is wasted on something that does not improve our health. [2]

Health insurance companies could be lowering costs by cutting administrative bloat, driving a hard bargain with hospitals on prices, paying doctors to keep people healthy rather than to order expensive treatments, and passing on those savings to customers. But too often, they just keep raising rates on their customers without doing these things. [3]

Thankfully, state officials, led by the Oregon Insurance Division, have significantly stepped up their scrutiny of health insurers’ rate hike requests. Since 2010, it made cuts to a majority of requests, cutting over $179 million in waste. [4] Highlights include:

  • Regence BlueCross BlueShield (2011): $12.5 million in waste cut, over $200 per person, when the state knocked back a 22% proposed increase nearly in half.
     
  • Providence (2013): $17.9 million in waste cut when the state trimmed back proposed rates by over 20%.

OSPIRG Foundation’s Health Insurance Rate Watch Project is doing our part by conducting in-depth analysis of insurers' rate hike requests, sharing our findings with state officials and the general public, and encouraging the public to participate in Oregon’s rate review process.

Our work is supported in part by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and from a grant of federal funds by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. The project is supported by Grant Number IPRPR0057A from Department of Health and Human Services Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CCIIO.

Learn more about Oregon's 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

Our project is guided by an Advisory Board of community leaders and experts, including:

  • Jerry Cohen of AARP-Oregon
  • Jim Houser of Hawthorne Auto Clinic.

[1] For employer coverage, based on 2009-2014 trends. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Employee Health Benefits: 2014 Summary of Findings

[2] Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Feb. 2011, The Healthcare Imperative: Lowering Costs and Improving Outcomes: infographic and report.

[3] For some real-life examples of cutting waste out of health care, see Atul Gawande's "Overkill," The New Yorker, May 2015.

[4] OSPIRG Foundation, September 2014, Accountability in Action.

Issue updates

Blog Post | Health Care

New data on health care prices raises questions for policymakers | Jesse O'Brien

A New York Times report released yesterday put the spotlight on health care prices. We all know that health care still costs too much, but too often, we have little information about how much it does cost and why.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Open Enrollment: Shop Before You Buy, Shop Before You Renew | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

It’s that time again: Time to enroll in health insurance for 2016. Health care and health insurance remain in the news in Oregon, and with everything that’s happening, 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 1.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Will Oregon’s health reforms deliver results for consumers? A new study raises some tough questions. | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

According to a new study, Oregon’s efforts to transform health care are not yet delivering on their potential to improve the consumer experience.

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Blog Post | Health Care

The Whole Shebang at a Glance: Proposed Health Insurance Rates for 2016 | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Here’s the skinny on OSPIRG Foundation’s new analysis of 2016 rates proposed by four Oregon insurers—LifeWise, Moda, PacificSource and Regence. 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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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

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

PacificSource Health Plan members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 42.7% on average, and as high as 60.4%, if the premium rate hike proposed by PacificSource goes forward. PacificSource’s increase is the largest proposed by a major health insurance carrier in Oregon’s individual market since 2010, when new rules heightening scrutiny of health insurance rates were implemented.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Health Insurance Rates to Rise 8-14% for Many Oregon Small Businesses

If approved, the insurer will raise rates 5.56% on average beginning in July, affecting 35,224 Oregonians enrolled in coverage through a small business employer.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Health Exchange Clears Oregon Legislature

Consumers might see decent affordable coverage on the horizon, now that Oregon lawmakers have given the green light for the new Health Insurance Exchange.

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Media Hit | Health Care

State of the rates

As any small business or individual who pays for health insurance can tell you, it hasn't been easy. Far from it, what with 20 percent rate hikes and a terrible economy.

But thanks to new rules to crack down on excessive health insurance rate hikes – and the greater scrutiny that has followed – consumers have reason for cautious optimism.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Public Comments Due on Regence Rate Hike

Oregonians impacted by Regence’s small business rate increase proposal have until the end of the day Tuesday, January 10th to submit public comments to the Oregon Insurance Division. 

 

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

15%+ Regence Rate Hikes for Some Small Businesses

If Regence BlueCross BlueShield’s proposal is approved, small businesses will see rates rise 8.0% on average, with some jumping more than 15% in the next year, according to a new analysis by OSPIRG Foundation’s Health Insurance Rate Watch project.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Small Business Rate Hike Proposal

We are concerned that Regence BlueCross BlueShield (Regence) has not adequately justified its proposal for a rate increase impacting 47,806 Oregonians with coverage through a small business employer.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Making the Grade

By providing better options and better information, and negotiating on behalf of its enrollees, the exchange can level the playing field for consumers.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on ODS Health Plan's Proposal to Increase Rates 9.94%

ODS Health Plan (ODS) is proposing to raise rates an average of 9.94%, impacting 26,333 Oregon consumers and families with individual plans, effective November 1, 2011. The nearly 10% rate increase comes after two back-to-back years of increases exceeding 17%. If approved, the average rate will have increased 52% for individual policyholders over the last three years.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Proposal to Increase Rates 22%

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon (Regence) is proposing to raise rates an average of 22.1% on individual plans. These are plans for people who do not have employer-based coverage. If approved, this rate increase will impact 59,477 Oregonians effective August 1, 2011.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Proposal to Raise Small Businesses Rates

Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield (Regence) is proposing a rate increase on small business plans, with an average increase of 10.8%, impacting 54,299 Oregonians, effective July 1, 2011.

> Keep Reading

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund

A new analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that 8 percent of nursing homes nationwide as of Dec. 27 had a critical shortage of surgical-grade N95 masks, which are the best protection against spreading the virus. Additionally, 4 to 6 percent of nursing homes reported shortages in at least one other category of personal protective equipment.

News Release | OSPIRG

The maker of Humira, the world’s best-selling drug, faces a new legal challenge over alleged anticompetitive tactics. Monday, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) filed an amicus brief in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that AbbVie’s strategies of reverse payment settlements and creating “patent thickets” have delayed the entry of biologically similar generic drugs (biosimilars) onto the market, costing Americans billions of dollars. 

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is putting incredible stress on the U.S. medical system, including the equipment that is essential to diagnose and treat patients, such as ventilators. As that equipment is pressed into round-the-clock use, biomedical repair technicians face increasing pressure to maintain and repair all that equipment. However, in too many cases, manufacturers limit access to the essential tools and information these repair experts need. A new report by the OSPIRG Foundation, Hospital Repair Restrictions, details the challenges that medical professionals face as a result of device manufacturers setting up barriers to repair, and outlines steps to take to help hospitals. 

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

COVID-19 is putting incredible stress on the U.S. medical system, including the work of hospital biomedical repair technicians, known as biomeds or BMETs. These technicians are essential; hospitals need working equipment to diagnose and treat patients. But in some cases, manufacturers restrict access to what biomeds need.

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.  

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