Group challenges St. Louis system's uninsured pricing settlement

Back in March, it seemed like a solution to the long-fought class-action lawsuit was near at hand. Under fire for the prices it charged the uninsured, St. Louis-based BJC Healthcare agreed to give a 25 percent discount to all hospital patients without insurance. The system also agreed to give uninsured patients who were treated at a BJC hospital since January 1999 a refund or bill reduction on any fees they had paid. But now, it's looking like the settlement might not be good enough for everyone involved.

While some members of the class suing BJC are happy with the solution it offered, others have filed objections to the terms, saying that BJC's approach doesn't deal what they consider to be excessive prices billed to uninsured patients. They say that a 25 percent discount is not enough, given that the standard prices can be three times as much as what a hospital bills for the care of insured patients. They'd rather see a settlement like the one agreed to by Tenet a few years ago, in which it agreed to charge uninsured patients its lowest negotiated rate with its health plans.

Now, a judge will decide whether the existing settlement is satisfactory, or whether BJC and the plaintiffs will need to rework their agreement.

To learn more about the ongoing dispute:
- read this St. Louis Post-Dispatch piece

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