The insurer was accused of having failed to notify its customers that the same coverage was being offered for less.
A health insurance company in Missouri has now reached a settlement in which it has agreed to send a total refund of almost $8 million to customers in the St. Louis area in order to compensate them for failing to inform them about identical plans that were being sold at a lower rate.
The agreement was reached between Anthem BlueCross BlueShield and officials of the state of Missouri.
The actual total of the refund is about $7.8 million. It will be sent to about 5,500 people who live in or near St. Louis under the deal that Anthem BlueCross BlueShield of Missouri has reached with the state Department of Insurance. The reason is that while the company was selling health insurance plans that provided the exact same coverage for a lower price, it allowed thousands of its customers to go on paying higher rates for identical plans.
The settlement is not a reflection of any admission of wrongdoing in selling health insurance from Anthem.
The company is not using the settlement as a method of admitting guilt. Instead, it has agreed to send the refunds to the customers in order to avoid the cost of litigation. The average check per eligible customer, according to Deb Wiethop, a spokesperson for Anthem, will be just slightly higher than $1,000.
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According to the director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, John Huff, “Part of our mission … is to ensure that consumers are fully informed about their insurance coverage options when they buy insurance.”
Anthem does business in the state as HMO Missouri Inc. and as Healthy Alliance Life Insurance Co. The insurance company has been accused of offering two similar health plans in the region of St. Louis, but that it has been charging more for one of those plans than for the other. While that, in itself, is not an action that is disallowed in the state, the problem was that customers who purchased the higher priced health insurance policies were not made aware of the fact that there was a cheaper equivalent.