By Mike Scarcella
(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co sued the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in a U.S. court on Wednesday, accusing it of a price-fixing conspiracy that caused the automaker to pay inflated costs for its customers’ health insurance products. employees.
The lawsuit Ford filed in federal court in Detroit accused the insurer and its Michigan regional branch of illegally dividing up parts of the country in an effort to lessen competition with each other to generate “astronomical profits.” “.
The allegations by Ford, which employs more than 170,000 workers worldwide, relate to a $2.7 billion settlement that the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its three dozen member companies reached in 2020 with policyholders of business and individuals in federal court in Alabama.
Ford withdrew from that settlement, which is now on appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, to pursue its own claims. The appeals court agreed to expedite its review of the settlement.
A spokesperson for defendant Blue Cross Blue Shield Association declined to comment on the ongoing litigation. A Blue Cross Blue Shield representative from Michigan also declined to comment.
Ford did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the lawsuit, and an attorney for the company declined to comment.
In the 40-page complaint, Ford said the alleged scheme to curb competition among Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations deprived the automaker of “the ability to purchase health insurance products and services from a competitor at a lower cost and/or at a price set by the open market.”
The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Blue Cross Blue Shield’s alleged anti-competitive behavior, and it also seeks treble damages and other remedies.
Ford said it has spent more than $500 million in premiums since 2009 on “fully insured” products for employees in designated areas of the state, according to the complaint.
Ford’s lawsuit said Michigan’s Blue Cross Blue Shield is the ninth-largest insurer in the nation based on its 4.5 million enrollees.
The case is Ford Motor Co v Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Mutual Insurance Company and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, No. 2:23-cv-11286-LVP-EAS.
For Ford: J. Travis Mihelick of Dinsmore & Shohl
For the Blue Cross: No appearance yet
(Reporting by Mike Scarcella; editing by Leigh Jones)