Antitrust litigation that commenced against the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and member companies in 2012 appears to be coming to a settlement. In short, plaintiffs alleged that Blue Cross Blue Shield companies across the country entered into agreements not to compete with each other for customers of health insurance. On November 30, 2020, the Court preliminarily approved a proposed settlement agreement consisting of:
Total Premiums Paid During the Settlement Class Period by FI Authorized Claimant A
Total Premiums Paid during the Settlement Class Period by all FI Authorized Claimants who submit claims
Total dollars in FI Net Settlement Fund
= Claim payment of FI Claimant A’s claim
Note that employees covered under group plans can submit claims on their own with respect to coverage under an employer- sponsored plan, and, if eligible, they receive their claim payment directly.
HOW WILL EMPLOYERS BE NOTIFIED ON HOW TO PROCEED?
Anyone can now access the Settlement’s “Long Form Notice.”
Blues Members were to provide the “notice and claims” administrator with information on possible class members, which apparently can include employees. By Spring 2021, the administrator is to distribute the notice, or at least information on how to access the notice, out to employers and other class members, including employees, by email and postcard and a variety of other ways. Anyone, including employers, also could haveregistered to receive notices and other correspondence by providing their name, street address and email address to BCBSnotice@BCBSsettlement.com. Despite the Long Form Notice currently being available to anyone, a robust campaign to distribute the Long Form Notice is still expected.
The Long Form Notice includes information on various deadlines and other important information.
HOW DO CLAIMANTS FILE THEIR CLAIM?
All employers wishing to file a claim must do so affirmatively. Employees may file their own claim. For those who do not do so, the employer will apparently receive their interest.
Employers may want to consider informing their employees about the settlement and the ability for them to file their own claims directly, although there is no specific requirement to do so.
A Claim Form is now available.
Claims can be filed online. For employers, key information to have available includes:
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS FOR EMPLOYERS?
• Attend hearing October 20, 2021 at 10:00 am Central Time
There are third parties offering services to employers who are seeking their settlement distributions. These third parties usually take a percentage of the employer’s settlement (e.g., 20%) for their services. It is unclear what additional value signing up with a third party brings.
WHAT IS THE TIMING OF ALL THIS?
HOW WILL THE INJUNCTIVE RELIEF IMPACT EMPLOYERS?
The proposed settlement may result in increased competition by doing both of the following:
• Dropping a rule that 2/3 of each member company’s national revenue from health plans and related services come from Blue-branded businesses.
– That change could increase competition among the companies if they choose to expand their non-Blue lines of business in one another’s geographic territories.
• Relaxing rules requiring national employers to choose a plan based on their headquarters.
– Certain large, self-funded national employers would be able to also request a bid from a second Blue insurer of their choice.
For a list, please visit: https://www.bcbssettlement.com/secondbluebid
This information provides a high-level summary only.
This summary is intended to convey general information and is not an exhaustive analysis. This information is subject to change as guidance develops. Emerson Reid does not provide legal or tax advice. For advice specific to your situation, please consult an attorney or other professional.
© 2021 Emerson Reid LLC. All Rights Reserved. 4 Updated March 22, 2021