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

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

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.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

Health insurance premiums

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

> Keep Reading
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?

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

Oregon Insurance Division OKs 12.8 percent health insurance rate increase, rejects 22 percent

The Oregon Insurance Division will allow the state's largest health insurer to raise rates on individual premiums an average 12.8 percent, far lower than the 22.1 percent the company had requested.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace: Ensuring Accountability

The creation of a new health insurance exchange offers states an opportunity to improve health care and lower costs by pooling consumers’ bargaining power, creating economies of scale, and pushing insurers toward delivering lower costs and higher quality.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Health Net's Rate Increase Proposal

Health Net Health Plan of Oregon is proposing an average 8.27% rate increase on small business plans impacting 37,872 Oregonians, effective April 1, 2011.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on United HealthCare's Proposed Rate Hike

In this rate filing, United HealthCare does not appear to justify the proposed 16.8% increase.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Delivering on the Promise

The recently passed federal health care reform law will make significant changes in how health insurance and health care work for consumers, businesses, and local and state governments, as well as how insurers and providers operate.  But whether Americans experience improved care, lower costs and greater access depends largely on what happens next.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Premiums on the Rise

In 2008, over 400,000 Oregonians received an average rate increase over 4 times the rate of inflation, with 133,000 Oregonians hit with premium increases over 21%.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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.

Blog Post

It's open enrollment season for health insurance in Oregon's individual market, from November 1 until December 15th.  What's new in the marketplace, and what do you need to know in order to gt covered?

Blog Post

The Fifth Circuit head oral arguments in the Texas v. Azar Lawsuit on July 9, 2019.  Oregon has a lot at stake if the Affordable Care Act is overturned - hundreds of thousands of consumers will face higher premiums or lose insurance outright, and dozens of important cosumer protections could be rolled back.

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