About 2 million eligible for BCBSM settlement

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It appears many West Michigan residents received the post card in the mail explaining how to take part in a class action settlement over agreements Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan had with providers.

And many appear to be confused. A question about the cards on the 24 Hour News 8 Facebook page had about 1,000 comments by mid-day Monday. Blue Cross Blue Shield postcard 081814

“Received one for myself! Held on to it for now! Not pursuing until I know it’s not fraudulent!” said Jen Marquardt.

“I got one and threw it away,” posted Heather Lyn Weidenfeller-kukla.

For some, the post card came across as a scam.

“I thought, well, I’m not sending anything out because I don’t want to send my information, personal information to somebody that I didn’t know anything about,” Laurie Venema said.

But the cards are legitimate. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has agreed to pay out nearly $30 million to patients, insurers and providers after settling an antitrust lawsuit this summer.

A few years ago, BCBSM wrote contracts with providers that required they give BCBSM the best price for services. Other insurers could not be charged any less, but could be charged more. Blue Cross considered it price protection.

But a lawsuit brought by a group of unions on the east side of the state claims the contracts actually drove up prices.

Such agreements are frowned upon in the world of antitrust law.

The Blues and the groups suing them reached a settlement before going to trial.

There’s something in it for competing insurers and self-insured organizations, like local units of government. But the biggest group that could benefit are consumers. As many as 2 million people may collect as part of the class action settlement.

If you paid a percentage-based copay for services between January 2006 and June 2014, you could get a minimum of $40 back, with a cap of up to 3.5% of the copay.

Plaintiffs have until November to object to the proposed settlement.

But with skepticism over the little white post cards, it remains to be seen how many consumers take part in the settlement.

“I might now after talking to you,” Venema said. “I might take a look into it. We’ll see what happens from here. I guess it doesn’t hurt.”

Many have said they already threw out the card. But that’s no problem — the firm handling the settlement has set up a website to answer questions and allow consumers to file claims.

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