The main purpose of antitrust laws in the United States is to encourage competition among businesses and help eliminate monopolies. The intent is to allow consumers the opportunity to decide which business or distributer best meets their needs. Otherwise, consumers may be left with limited options and may become victim to destructive business practices. Recently, the announcement of the $2.7 billion settlement between claimants and Blue Cross Blue Shield relates to antitrust laws and violations of fair competition. Policyholders who may be eligible to receive a piece of this class action lawsuit include those who were covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield plans from February 2008 to October 2020.
According to claimants, in an effort to reduce the level of competition in certain territories, Blue Cross Blue Shield formed agreements with other branches of the insurance company. By narrowing the consumer options for health insurance and administrative services for health insurance, divisions of Blue Cross Blue Shield were able to charge increased rates for coverage. Despite this argument, the insurance company defended their plans and procedures. According to their business model and conduct, their plans provided greater access of insurance coverage to consumers, at lower healthcare expenditures. While the settlement does not serve as an admission of guilt on behalf of the defendant, both parties chose to come to an agreement to help avoid further accrued costs of litigation.
Although legal counsel will most likely receive $700 million of that proposed settlement, claimants may be entitled to about $2 billion of the remaining amount. Those wishing to receive a portion of this settlement may file online or by mail by November 5, 2021. By this date, potential claimants may either file, opt out of the settlement to pursue a separate lawsuit, object to the settlement, or take no form of action. This monumental case was approved in an Alabama courtroom last year and marks one of the largest settlements involving an insurance company in US history.