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Health insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross will refund $8.3 million to California consumers to settle two lawsuits.
The lawsuits alleged Anthem illegally raised the co-pays and deductibles of 50,000 individual policyholders when it made changes to their policies in mid-2011.
Insurers can’t engage in such tactics, said the plaintiff’s attorney Ricardo Echeverria, with Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP .
“When they issue a policy at the beginning of the year, and it has terms, you as a consumer should be able to rely on those terms," Echeverria said. "And the idea that an insurance company can change those terms unilaterally during the contract is ludicrous.”
Attorney Jerry Flanagan with Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit that filed one of the lawsuits against the insurer, said Anthem should be commended for listening to the heartfelt concerns of its policyholders, and agreeing to no longer seek mid-year changes in costs or benefits.
As part of the settlement, Anthem will issue refund checks to affected policyholders in December. The average refund will be $167.