April 6, 2018
A federal judge in Alabama overseeing a case involving 36 Blue Cross plans ruled Thursday a 1980s-era plan to divvy up service areas may violate antitrust laws, a finding attorneys said is a major blow to the companies’ case.
The ruling is not final, but does provide a lens for the judge to use as the case goes to trial, said plaintiff’s attorney Barry Ragsdale. The 2013 lawsuit, filed by providers and small-group subscribers, accuses the plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association of violating antitrust laws that keep businesses from conspiring to affect the market. About 90 percent of people with health insurance in Alabama are covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Blue Cross Blue Shield plans cover more than 100 million people nationwide, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Ragsdale said it is the largest antitrust case in United States history.
“It really is a seismic event in this case,” Ragsdale said. “I don’t think you can overstate what a big ruling this is.”