Did Blue Cross Blue Shield violate anti-trust lawsuits?

Did Blue Cross Blue Shield violate anti-trust lawsuits?
(Source: WBRC Video)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It's one of the largest anti-trust cases in the country and a Birmingham federal judge has made a major ruling in the case that could impact doctors and patients under 36 different blue cross blue shield plans across the country, including Alabama.

A judge ruled there was enough evidence that the health care provider may have violated anti-trust laws. This could turn into a class-action lawsuit with a lot of money at stake.

If it makes it to a jury trial and the plaintiffs win, it could results into major payouts for consumers.

The suit claims that the insurer's actions mean higher premiums for customers and lower reimbursement rates for medical providers.

It claimed that the Blue Cross and Blue Shields throughout the country set up anti-competitions with each other which resulted in higher premiums for people paying for the insurance.

After several years of delays, a U.S. District Judge David Proctor of the Northern District of Alabama ruled that there was enough evidence of anti-trust laws violations that this case could go before a jury next year.

"Our economy depends on the fact that businesses can compete with one another and that competition makes prices  lower and when businesses agree not to compete against one another that's a violation of the federal anti-trust laws and the prices to the consumers go up. so that's why the federal laws prevent this kind of agreement not to compete," said John Carroll, a law professor at Samford University.

BC/BS senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary Scott Nehs released the following statement:

This is one step in a lengthy process; we will appeal the interim ruling and are confident that we will prevail. The District Court stated that it is constrained by authority from the late 1960s and early 1970s, which we believe is inapplicable for a number of reasons. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield System has served Americans well for almost a century, and we are disappointed by the court's ruling with respect to certain aspects of the BCBS System. BCBS companies provide substantial benefits to medical professionals and currently serve nearly 106 million people with competitive pricing, secure and stable health care coverage and reliable service. This decision does not change that history or our unwavering commitment to the American people.

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