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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan headquarters. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

A nonprofit company in Michigan filed a lawsuit this week against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, alleging the health insurance company "illegally skimmed" extra money from the company in the form of "hidden fees."

Why it matters: Most employers are self-insured, including the one in this lawsuit, which means they pay workers' medical claims and hire insurers to do back-end work. But hiring insurers also leads to other various fees for employers, some of which may go unnoticed.

Details: This isn't a new legal problem for BCBS of Michigan. Hundreds of companies in the state have sued the insurer over hidden fees, which were secretly embedded in hospital and physician claims between 1994 and 2012. A 2014 federal ruling said BCBS of Michigan violated federal employment benefits law.

  • "They stole money from people. That's been determined in court," said Aaron Phelps, the attorney for the plaintiffs.
  • Phelps believes this particular scheme was unique to Michigan, but he said "insurance companies in general are creative in finding ways to rip people off."

What they're saying: "This lawsuit dates back to issues from more than 20 years ago and pre-date many of us at Blue Cross," a BCBS of Michigan spokeswoman said in a statement. "We are of course disappointed when parties go to court because we prefer to resolve these matters by working with customers."

  • The insurer also acknowledges the disputes in financial documents, saying other cases "are in various stages of development."

The bottom line: If you are a self-insured company, it won't hurt to audit your health insurance provider for any omitted charges.

Go deeper

32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

2 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.