A federal judge in the case of Alma Products v. BCBSM recently agreed with arguments presented by Varnum that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s “Value of Blue” report did not reveal that it was charging hidden fees (often described as “provider network” or “access” fees) to its self-funded customers.
The Alma Products lawsuit is one among more than 60 similar cases brought by Varnum on behalf of self-funded companies against BCBSM for violating federal law (ERISA) by charging hidden fees.
Blue Cross argued that its so called “Value of Blue” pie charts disclosed its practice of charging the hidden fees, barring the plaintiffs’ claims. In his ruling, Judge Thomas L. Ludington held that the “Value of Blue” pie chart, standing alone, was not sufficient to alert the plaintiff that it was being charged hidden fees, and that the plaintiffs may proceed with their lawsuit.
In 2013, Varnum successfully represented a client against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in a matter that involved millions of dollars in illegal hidden access fees. The practice was widespread and Varnum has now represented more than 60 clients in similar litigation against BCBSM. These case updates serve as a record of Varnum’s activity on behalf of our clients in these matters.