Anthem Blue Cross To Pay Consumers $8.3 Mln Over Mid-Year Changes

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Anthem Blue Cross of California has agreed to pay $8.3 million to settle a pair of class action lawsuits challenging mid-year changes it made to customers’ deductibles in 2011, a consumer advocacy group announced Tuesday.

The health insurer has also agreed not to make similar changes in the future, unless new laws or regulations specifically allow it to do so, said Consumer Watchdog, which represented the plaintiffs along with Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley.

The money will go to about 50,000 Anthem Blue Cross customers included in the class actions, the group said.

The lawsuits were filed in 2011 in Los Angeles County Superior Court after Anthem increased California customers’ deductibles, resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs for them.

The plaintiffs brought claims for breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing and violation of California consumer protection statutes.

”Anthem should be commended for listening to the heartfelt concerns of its policyholders,” said Jerry Flanagan, Consumer Watchdog’s lead attorney, in a press release. “This settlement gives consumers the peace-of-mind of knowing that their ‘annual’ out-of-pocket costs won’t change in the middle of the year.”

The settlement also provides incentive payments of $10,000 each for the four individual plaintiffs.

A representative of Anthem could not immediately be reached for comment.

The cases are Taub v. Blue Cross of California, No. BC457809, and Kassouf et al v. Blue Cross of California, No. BC473408, in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

For plaintiffs: Harvey Rosenfield of Consumer Watchdog, Michael Bidart and Ricardo Echeverria of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley

For Anthem: not available

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