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

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
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.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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
Media Hit | Health Care

State decision draws reactions from Regence, consumers’ group

The Statesman Journal’s Editorial Board recently met with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon regarding their proposed increase for individual plans. A ruling by the state’s insurance division prompted these statements today:

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Health Care

22 percent rate increase by Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon brings out strong protest

Concerns about surging health care costs drove more than 150 people Thursday to hear Oregon's largest health insurer defend its request to raise premiums an average 22 percent.

> Keep Reading

Pages

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

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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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