AMA launches class-action suits against two insurers

March 20, 2009

On the heels of a $350 million class-action lawsuit settlement with UnitedHealthcare in January concerning underpayment for out-of-network services, the American Medical Association, along with numerous state medical societies, launched two similar class-action suits against health insurers CIGNA and ætna in early February.

The complaints charge Aetna and CIGNA with relying on skewed data provided by Ingenix, a UnitedHealth Group subsidiary, to set reimbursement rates for out-of-network care.

Both companies issued statements saying the lawsuits will be "vigorously defended." CIGNA called the lawsuit "without merit," and Aetna called it disappointing in light of the improved physician relations the company has made in recent years, according to a statement.

The two insurers will help fund a new nonprofit organization-not to be operated by any insurer-to create a public fee database.

The UnitedHealthcare settlement dispersal is being decided by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, says AMA spokesman Robert Mills.

The award amount and number of doctors affected have yet to be determined.

When the court decides, physicians will be able to find out how to access their share of the settlement on the AMA website at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/no-index/legislation-advocacy/17555.shtml.