Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Lawsuit
April 30, 2021: Wespath Benefits and Investments has shared the below information as an update to the recent notices our Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plan participants may have received related to a class action suit against Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), which is the national association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross Blue Shield companies, recently agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging antitrust law violations. The lawsuit alleges that, from 2008 through 2020, BCBSA companies entered into agreements that divided up the health care insurance and administration market among themselves to avoid competing with each other—resulting in higher prices for individuals and employers. The proposed settlement agreement includes a $2.67 billion settlement fund (or approximately $1.9 billion after deduction of attorneys’ fees, administration expenses and other costs) and requires BCBSA companies to stop certain practices that were alleged to be anticompetitive.
Group health plans insured or administered by a BCBSA company, employees enrolled in such plans, and individuals covered by an individual insurance policy from a BCBSA company may be eligible to submit a claim to share in the settlement proceeds. If your conference, or a local church in your conference, sponsors a group health plan that is insured or administered by a BCBSA company, you should consider submitting a claim on behalf of your plan and informing your plan’s participants of their right to do so as well. If your conference doesn’t maintain a group health plan, but some of your clergy and employees purchase individual coverage from a BCBSA company (through a Marketplace or private plan), you may wish to bring the settlement to their attention. Based on publicly available court filings, it appears that payments made to a group health plan will be reduced by any payments that participants in that plan receive. More information about the settlement, FAQs and a claims submission portal is available at: https://www.BCBSsettlement.com.
Some individuals recently received a postcard or e-mail communication regarding the proposed settlement from JND Legal Administration, the lawsuit’s third-party notice and claims administrator. The postcards and e-mails are not spam. However, it appears that the communications have not been precisely targeted at individuals eligible to share in the settlement proceeds. Wespath has learned that some individuals who are not eligible to share in the settlement proceeds received a postcard or e-mail, while some individuals who are eligible to share in the settlement proceeds have not received a postcard or e-mail.
The proposed settlement must be approved by the federal district court handling the lawsuit. The court is scheduled to hold a hearing on the fairness of the proposed settlement in October. Claims for settlement proceeds must be submitted by November 5, 2021.
For more information and to direct all questions regarding the suit, please visit www.bcbssettlement.com. The NC Conference is not involved in the distribution of materials or information in the matter. We have no recommendation for plan participants as to whether they do or do not respond to the email or any materials they may receive from Blue Cross Blue Shield or any other party involved.
Notice for FSA Participants
You may have unclaimed balances available in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Please read this notice in its entirety. An unclaimed balance may arise from either or both the 2020 and/or 2021 FSA contributions. Typically, FSAs are a use-it-or-lose-it benefit plan, meaning that you lose the money you contributed if you don’t claim it for reimbursement by the end of the traditional grace period. Also typically, you cannot change your election mid-year without also having a qualified change in your status.
However, the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“Act”) provides increased flexibility for Medical and Dependent Care FSAs. Our plan has adopted the outlined changes below under the Act with the ultimate goal of assisting participants who might have otherwise lost their contributions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
12-Month Extension of Grace Period for Medical and Dependent Care FSAs
The grace period for both our Medical and Dependent Care FSA for the plan years ending in 2020 and 2021 is extended to 12 months after the end of each plan year. You can incur eligible medical expenses and eligible dependent care expenses dated within a 12-month period after the end of the plan year (versus the traditional grace period of 2 1/2 months after the end of the plan year) and claim those expenses for reimbursement from your unused balances. For example, if you have an unused balance from 2020, you can still incur expenses dated through December 31, 2021, and claim them for reimbursement against your 2020 balance. After this period of temporary relief, the plan’s Medical and Dependent Care FSA grace period will return to the 2 1/2 month grace period.
Election Changes Without a Change in Status
For the plan year ending in 2021, you can make prospective election changes (i.e., enroll, discontinue, increase or decrease your contribution amount) to modify your Medical and/or Dependent Care FSA contributions without a change in status. Note, this does not apply to benefits other than Medical and Dependent Care FSAs.
What should you do next?
1. Log into your ProBenefits account to check your balance. You can access your account through the webportal or by downloading their mobile app.
2. Look for any qualified expenses that you have already or will incur between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021. Submit a claim to ProBenefits for reimbursement of those expenses. Claims can be submitted faxing/emailing this Claims Form to ProBenefits or by uploading photos of the receipts through the mobile app. Claims for 2020 must be submitted by December 31, 2021. Claims for 2021 must be submitted by December 31, 2022.
3. Consider your current 2021 election and email the Benefits Team if you want to make any prospective changes.
We hope this notice helps you make the most of your FSA benefit. Let us know if you have any questions.
Telehealth Will Save You Time and Money!
BlueCross BlueShield and MDLive give Conference insurance participants access to Telehealth services! Telehealth offers you access to board-certified doctors and specialists anytime, anywhere. Once your account is set up, you can quickly and easily get help for common, non-emergency conditions. Your telehealth doctor can even send a prescription to the nearest pharmacy, if necessary.
The NC Conference is offering this service to participants FREE of charge! There will be no co-pay fees charged this year to NC Conference BCBS health plan participants for consulting with any doctor using MDLive. Disregard any co-pay fees you may see in the app or on the website as they are for the MDLive general audience. You will have to enter credit card information when making an appointment, but no fee will be charged.
Telehealth video consults are safe, secure and confidential. They are convenient when:
- your regular doctor is booked
- you’re out of town
- it’s after hours, the weekend, or a holiday
- you can’t take time off work
- you want a lower-cost option to urgent care of the ER for non-emergencies
Conditions treated include:
- general medical issues such as sinus infections, fevers, cold and flu, sports injuries, etc.
- behavioral health issues such as grief, stress, depression, and anxiety
- dermatology issues like minor cuts, rashes, psoriasis, and eczema.
Start today by creating your account. Text “videodoc” to MDLIVE (635483) and Sophie, MDLIVE’s personal Artificial-Intelligence Robot, can activate your account. Also, when you simply register for the service (before even making an appointment), you’ll earn a $25 registration incentive! You can redeem your $25 incentive by selecting a gift card to a retailer/restaurant of your choice from your BlueConnectNC participant portal (login > Blue Connect Home > Blue Rewards). Please allow about 8 weeks after registration for your incentive to become available.
New: Amazing Pace Walkingspree mobile app
The Walkingspree mobile app has been updated with lots of new features! Now you can see:
- Your progress in a challenge
- Add your non tracker activity, ie. swimming to your account.
- Connect with Google Fit/Apple Health (access varies depending on your program).
Download the app from Google Play or the App Store.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Benefits
2021 Base Summary of Benefits
2021 Buy-Up Summary of Benefits
Life Insurance Benefits
BASIC Church-paid Benefit
SUPPLEMENTAL Life Insurance Option
Will Preparation Services for Participants in the Supplemental Life Insurance Option
Post-Retirement Insurance Policies History
See the Insurance Plan History document for an historical account of the policies affecting post-retirement insurance benefits.