Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield Faces Antitrust Suit

August 9, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc. of Loveland, Ohio has filed a $20 million federal antitrust suit saying Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield and Cornerstone Broker Insurance violated federal antitrust acts and defamed and libeled the company.

A news report says the plaintiffs allege that the companies conspired to interfere with its strategy to lower businesses’ health insurance costs. The strategy uses a federal tax law to refinance health-care costs by raising deductibles on existing group insurance policies and administering benefits through a medical expense reimbursement plan. The strategy provides an option to shift utilization away from the group policy and rewrite employees, spouses and dependents using individual insurance policies, according to the news report.

According to the suit, “Since September 2004, the defendants and co-conspirators have willfully and maliciously and in an attempt to obtain an unfair commercial advantage, defamed and libeled the Total Benefit’s Strategy to third-parties, including but not limited to, insurance agencies, agents, businesses and consumers, claiming that said strategy is ‘unethical’ and ‘illegal,’ although the defendants and co-conspirators know that not to be true.”

The suit seeks $15 million in “trebled” compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages for the employee benefits agency.

An Anthem spokeswoman said only that a copy of the suit has been received and is being reviewed.

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