Ford Motor Co sues Blue Cross Blue Shield in antitrust case over ‘astronomical’ profits

June 1 (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co (FN) sued the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in a U.S. court on Wednesday, accusing it of a pricing conspiracy that caused the automaker to pay high costs for health insurance products for its employees.

The lawsuit Ford filed in Detroit federal court accused the insurer and its Michigan regional division of illegally dividing up parts of the land in a scheme to reduce competition with each other to drive “astronomical profits.”[ads1];

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 corporate and individual policyholders in Alabama federal court.

Ford opted out of the settlement, which is now being appealed in the Atlanta-based 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, to pursue its own claims. The Court of Appeal agreed to speed up processing of the settlement.

A spokesperson for defendant Blue Cross Blue Shield Association declined to comment on pending litigation. A representative from Blue Cross Blue Shield of 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 arrangement to suppress competition among Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations deprived the vehicle manufacturer “of the opportunity to purchase health insurance products and services from a competitor at lower costs and/or at a price determined by the free market .”

The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Blue Cross Blue Shield’s alleged anticompetitive conduct, and it also seeks treble damages and other remedies.

Ford said it had spent more than $500 million on premiums since 2009 for “fully insured” products for employees in designated areas of the state, according to the complaint.

Ford’s lawsuit said Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the nation’s ninth-largest insurer based on 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 Blue Cross: No appearance yet

Reporting by Mike Scarcella; editing by Leigh Jones

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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