R.I. Blue Cross Settles Lawsuits for Nearly $18 Million

January 17, 2005

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island will pay $17.5 million to settle a pair of lawsuits accusing it of bilking subscribers by failing to pass along discounts negotiated for prescription drugs and health services.

The settlement means 115,000 people will receive checks from $10 to $25,000, many of them Rhode Islanders. Five plaintiffs each get $25,000.

The lawsuits were filed in 1996. Plaintiffs sought up to $75 million on behalf of people insured by Blue Cross dating back to 1990.

State Rep. Peter Wasylyk, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the settlement ends one of the hardest-fought class-action suits against a health insurer.

Blue Cross spokesman Scott Fraser said the deal spares each party the time and expense of going to trial. The insurer admits no wrongdoing as part of the deal.

“It’s a good settlement for both parties,” Fraser said.

A Blue Cross competitor, UnitedHealthcare of New England, settled a similar lawsuit for $4.4 million on behalf of 27,000 subscribers in 2002.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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