|By Ames Alexander and Joseph Neff, The Charlotte Observer|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Blue Cross plans nationwide have driven up health care costs by colluding to carve up the nation's insurance market.
As the plaintiffs tell it, the arrangement works like this: 38
The plaintiffs -- three
More competition would mean lower prices, the lawsuit contends. Instead, the arrangement has allowed the insurers to dominate their markets and to charge inflated premiums.
The lawsuit argues that those clauses stifle competition by preventing other insurers from negotiating for lower costs. That, in turn, leads to higher premiums at the other insurance companies.
'We will vigorously defend'
In court filings,
The company said it is no longer including MFN clauses in new contracts and has recently removed them from old ones.
Among those representing the
"We will vigorously defend the
'Benefits of competition'
But some antitrust experts find the plaintiffs' arguments credible.