Seyfarth Synopsis: In light of a recent focus on price transparency, claims data, and hidden fees in the health plan world, employer-sponsored health plans have been bringing their fight to the courtroom in an effort to lower costs and demonstrate good fiduciary governance.
In the wake of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, as well as newly-issued transparency regulations, employers sponsoring group health plans now have access to (or should have access to) a bevy of data not previously available in the notoriously secretive space of health plan pricing. As predicted, this new era of information transparency has spurred a small but growing stream of lawsuits. Surprisingly though, the plaintiffs in these suits are plan sponsors (or their committees) in their role as plan administrator, as opposed to plan participants, and the defendants are health plan third-party administrators rather than the plans themselves. In light of these recent lawsuits, this post focuses on fiduciary considerations for health plans in this new era of fee and price transparency.
While each lawsuit filed to date has unique aspects, they all generally allege some combination of the following:
- Failure to adequately and fully disclose payment data as required by law;
- Imposition of hidden and unreasonable fees;
- Breach of fiduciary duty; and
- Claims mismanagement and overpayment.