Statement of Laura Etherton, OSPIRG Foundation Health Care Advocate
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.
The DCBS decision to cut the increase to 12.8% means that $12.5 million will stay in Oregon consumers’ pockets, and that’s good news.
We are glad that DCBS agreed with our analysis that the proposed increase was not fully justified, would worsen the problem of Regence’s shrinking enrollment numbers, and have negative impacts on enrollees. In its decision, DCBS officials also noted the importance of the public comments they received as part of the public hearing and public comment period on the proposed rate hike.
While today’s rate decision is good news, it’s clear that the approved 12.8% rate increase will still be tremendously difficult for Oregonians to afford, especially in this economy. More must be done – by insurers and players across the health industry – to lower costs by cutting waste and improving Oregonians’ health.
Oregon’s rate review program is a critical part of a comprehensive approach to reining in runaway health care costs. We encourage DCBS to continue its close scrutiny of rate increases to eliminate excessive costs for consumers, and work to further increase the transparency of the rate review process and opportunities for public involvement.