As part of a class action lawsuit, Anthem Blue Cross of California has agreed to end midyear policy changes and reimburse about 50,000 customers nearly $8.3 million. Two lawsuits filed by policyholders in Los Angeles Superior Court accused the state’s largest for-profit health insurer of breach of contract and engaging in unfair business practices, when it suddenly increased annual deductibles and out-of-pocket costs on individual policies mid-year. According to plaintiff and individual policy holder, Dave Jacobson, Anthem Blue Cross required him to pay a fifty dollar fee three months after meeting his deductible in order for them to continue paying their share for his medical expenses. “My deductible had become a moving target,” Jacobson stated, “It’s as if Anthem Blue Cross changed the rules of the game in the middle of the game.” In addition, his yearly out-of-pocket maximum increased from $5,000 to $5,850, and his annual prescription drug deductible increased from $250 to $275. Another plaintiff, Eric Taub, and his wife were paying a combined premium of $2,400 each month, with $1,500 deductibles, when the mid-year change increased their deductible to $1,750. “It’s like you’re playing a game and you think you’re at the goal, and they move the goal post another 10 yards,” Taub said.
In a statement made by company spokesman, Darrel Ng, Anthem Blue Cross did not admit liability, but agreed to settle to avoid “further expense.” In the lawsuit, Anthem argued that its contracts allowed for mid-year increases as long as it provided proper notice to its customers. As part of the settlement, the healthcare company agreed to no longer making mid-year alterations to individual customer’s plans unless a change in law or regulations allows the modifications.
An average amount of $167 per plaintiff is expected to be awarded this December, with some customers receiving as much as $19,000. All Californians enrolled in Anthem Blue Cross individual health plans will be subject to the agreement that prevents such cost increases in the future, although only victims of the midyear policy changes will receive settlement checks.
If are the victim of fraud and unfair business practices made by Anthem Blue Cross or any other healthcare provider, the lawyers at Hodes Milman Liebeck are there for you in your time of need. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222 for a complimentary case evaluation.