Federal judge OKs Blues plans' nearly $2.7B antitrust settlement

A federal judge has signed off on Blues insurers' nearly $2.7 billion antitrust settlement.

Judge David Proctor in Alabama district court ruled Tuesday that the settlement was "fairly and honestly negotiated" and approved the plans for dispensing the settlement dollars. The $2.67 billion settlement amount will be put in an escrow account for distribution to the plaintiffs.

"Success in antitrust cases such as this one is inherently uncertain, and there is no guarantee that continued litigation would yield a superior result," the court said.

The settlement agreement ends a decadelong legal battle that stems from a 2012 class-action suit alleging Blues plans would split up geographic areas to avoid competing with one another directly. The lack of competition would in turn drive up prices for employers and patients.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association signed off on the settlement in late 2020, and other parties in the case have gotten on board in the months since. Some of the patients in the suit opted out of the settlement in opposition to the amount the attorneys would collect, and their case is ongoing separately.

Under the settlement, large national employers can request bids from two Blues plans, which would improve competition.

In a statement, a BCBSA spokesperson said the organization is happy with the outcome.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are pleased with the Court’s Order approving the settlement we reached to resolve the claims in this case," the spokesperson said. "As the settlement approval process continues to progress, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association remains committed to finalizing the agreement and implementing its terms."