Federal judge gives final approval to WellPoint settlement

Four unresolved cases between physicians and insurers regarding underpayment of claims head for an April trial.

By Amy Lynn Sorrel — Posted Jan. 30, 2006

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

A U.S. District Court judge gave the final stamp of approval to a $198 million settlement agreement between WellPoint and more than 700,000 physicians who are part of a national class-action lawsuit that accused the company of unfairly underpaying insurance claims.

Medical societies and doctors' attorneys in the case hailed the settlement, reached in July 2005, as a positive step toward better cooperation in the health care system. Doctors also said it would allow them to focus more on patient care.

Judge Federico A. Moreno, of the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, approved a $135 million settlement fund to compensate doctors' claims, and up to $58 million in legal fees to be paid by WellPoint. The company will contribute $5 million to a nonprofit foundation that promotes higher quality health care for disadvantaged patients.

The agreement also includes changes to WellPoint's business practices so physicians can more easily resolve billing disputes and ensure timely payments.

The settlement resolved two lawsuits, one filed against WellPoint HealthNetworks and the other against Anthem. After the lawsuits were filed, the companies merged.

Under the settlement, WellPoint did not admit any wrongdoing in the matter. The final approval also resolved other lawsuits already filed against the company.

Individual doctors and medical societies sued the nation's largest insurers, accusing them of improperly paying them.

The WellPoint settlement is similar to earlier settlements with Aetna, Cigna, Prudential Insurance Co. and Health Net.

An April 17 trial date is set for cases against four remaining HMOs: Humana, Coventry, PacifiCare Health Systems and UnitedHealthcare.

More information about the WellPoint settlement is online (link).

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn