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BCBS members receive notice of $2.7B antitrust settlement

The settlement resolves claims that the insurers violated antitrust laws by entering into an agreement not to compete with each other.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Photo courtesy bcbssettlement.comPhoto courtesy bcbssettlement.com

Millions of Blue Cross and Blue Shield beneficiaries are receiving notices that they may be eligible for a share of a $2.7 billion antitrust settlement that was settled last October.

Claims must be filed by November 5.

The settlement resolves claims that the insurers violated antitrust laws by entering into an agreement not to compete with each other and to limit competition among themselves in selling health insurance, according to the BCBS settlement website.

The defendants denied all allegations of wrongdoing and asserted that their conduct resulted in lower healthcare costs and greater access to care for their customers. 

"Instead, plaintiffs and settling defendants have agreed to a settlement to avoid the risk and cost of further litigation," BCBS said.

The court also made no determination or right or wrong.

WHY THIS MATTERS

This settlement arose from a class action antitrust lawsuit that was reached on behalf of individuals and companies that purchased or received health insurance provided or administered by a Blue Cross Blue Shield company. 

If approved by the court, a $2.67 billion settlement fund would be established. BCBS defendants agreed to make changes in the way they do business that would increase the opportunities for competition in the market for health insurance.

Class members who could be impacted by the settlement include individual employees as well as employers who sponsored health insurance plans that were insured with BCBS at any time between February 7, 2008 and October 16, 2020, under fully insured plans, or were covered by or enrolled in a self-funded plan any time between September 1, 2015 and October 16, 2020. 

Eligible class members are expected to be notified of their eligibility and potential benefits under the settlement by the class action representatives.

THE LARGER TREND

On October 30, 2020, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies said they had reached an agreement to settle a legal dispute challenging elements of Blue Cross Blue Shield Association licensing agreements. 

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 35 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

In November 2020, Anthem said it would pay $594 million as its share of the antitrust settlement. Anthem operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com