A deeper dive: How tentative $2.7B antitrust deal would change Blue plan operations

Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers tentatively reached a $2.7 billion settlement in an antitrust lawsuit that accuses the companies of conspiring to divide markets and avoid directly competing with each other. 

Outside of the large monetary settlement, the tentative agreement could alter how Blue plans operate. Here's five things to know about how the possible settlement could change Blue operations, per The Wall Street Journal:

1. Under the proposed settlement, Blue insurers would ditch a rule that places limits on non-Blue generated revenue. Specifically, the insurers would drop a rule that requires two-thirds of national net revenues from health plans and related services to come from Blue-branded products.

2. Experts told WSJ that dropping the two-thirds rule could increase competition among Blue insurers that want to expand their non-Blue business lines in each other's markets.

3. Another change under the tentative settlement would affect a rule that keeps Blue insurers from competing with each other for contracts with large national employers. The proposed agreement would relax a rule that requires large employers to work with a Blue insurer that offers coverage where the employer's headquarters are.

4. Currently, Blue insurers can only compete for national accounts if another Blue insurer in the employer's home state cedes it. The setup has effectively allowed smaller Blue insurers to hold larger accounts that may have gone with larger Blue companies, according to WSJ. But the settlement would allow national employers to request bids from a second Blue insurer.

5. Deep Banerjee, an S&P Global Ratings analyst, told WSJ that the changes would likely be advantageous for larger Blue insurers, like Anthem. Anthem has Blue-branded plans in 14 states.

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