Ford Motor Company has accused Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its Michigan affiliate of conspiring to artificially inflate the automaker’s insurance premiums and other commercial health insurance services. In response, the two insurers have asked a US judge to dismiss Ford’s lawsuit.
“We have been operating openly—in full view of Ford—for years and invested billions of dollars building the Blue brand in Michigan,” said Michigan’s Blue Cross Blue Shield. “If Ford had a claim to bring, it should have brought it long ago”, reported Reuters.
Ford lodged its complaint against Blue Cross in May 2020 and says that since 2009, it has spent more than $500 million on premiums for certain Blue Cross products. It accuses Blue Cross of blocking competitors and depriving Ford of “the opportunity to purchase health insurance products and services from a lower cost competitor and/or at a price set by the free market.”
The Blue Cross entities argue that Ford’s lawsuit is beyond the legal time frame required for antitrust lawsuits and – despite Ford’s allegations to the contrary – that they have not restricted competition in the US insurance market.
Their defense is part of a multi-billion dollar antitrust case going back to 2012. The case was settled with a $2.7 billion payment in 2020 to a number of major US companies. Ford opted out of the settlement, however, and launched a class-action suit against the Blue Cross entities.
Insiders say the outcome of this case could have major implications for the health insurance market and the position of Ford and its competitors. Advocates are also monitoring the outcome of the suit closely, as it has the potential to bring real change in the sector – however, a resolution may still be some way off.