SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Anthem Blue Cross will refund $8.3 million to approximately 50,000 subscribers and stop making mid-year changes to annual deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket costs as part of a class action settlement announced Tuesday.
Two lawsuits filed in 2011 by Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP and Consumer Watchdog challenged mid-year changes Anthem made to California policies, and alleged that the insurance company illegally increased “annual deductibles” and other out-of-pocket costs.
“Anthem Blue Cross changed the rules of the game in the middle of the game,” said Anthem Blue Cross subscriber Dave Jacobson, who got a letter noting his deductible went up to $550 after he met the initial $500 deductible.
The settlement will bar future mid-year cost increases for all Californians enrolled in individual Anthem health plans. Anthem will also reimburse approximately 50,000 customers who paid more out-of-pocket due to the 2011 mid-year changes a total of nearly $8.3 million.
Anthem Blue Cross did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
The settlement does not require Anthem subscribers to file a claim to receive reimbursement. Anthem says checks will be mailed in December to subscribers who paid more as a result of the 2011 mid-year changes.
Most of the refund checks will average at about $167, but one will be $19,000.
In a statement, the insurance company said, “Anthem is very pleased that all parties were able to come to this agreement.”