U.S. Superior Court Judge Wendell Mortimer has granted approval of a proposed settlement between Tenet Healthcare Corporation and uninsured patients who received care at Tenet facilities nationwide.
The suit was originally filed in 2002 and alleged that uninsured patients were charged an excessive “gross charge” at 114 hospitals owned and operated by Tenet Healthcare in 16 states. The suit claimed that Tenet took advantage of the uninsured and working poor who do not have the economic leverage to negotiate lower rates, while giving discounts to HMO’s and large payers.
Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said that the settlement is a victory for the uninsured.
“We are pleased with the outcome of this case and feel that the settlement is an important step toward fair pricing for all patients,” Berman said. “This settlement proves that the uninsured have a voice and will be heard, and that hospitals must be held to a higher standard in their treatment of the working poor.”
According to the terms of the settlement, Tenet will refund amounts paid in excess of certain pricing thresholds. The specific percentage of
reimbursement varies depending on the year the patient was treated.
Tenet Healthcare also agreed to offer uninsured patients the same rate
that it offers its managed care clients, for a period of four years.
Berman noted that Tenet Healthcare’s concessions are significant for
uninsured patients, stating, “This settlement evokes change in Tenet’s pricing policies and offers real value to patients. Moving forward, the settlement also has a broader reach by guaranteeing that uninsured patients will receive discounts.”
The settlement class includes all uninsured patients who received
medically necessary services at any of Tenet Healthcare’s hospitals between June 15, 1999 and Dec. 31, 2004, and paid for services based on the “gross charge.”
Tenet Healthcare has made no admission of wrongdoing.
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