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They make hospitals charge other health insurance companies more

health insurance claimsAs the dominant health insurers in many states, member plans of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association use their clout to negotiate hospital contracts that guarantee Blue Cross plans better rates than other insurers, according to a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

According to officials, in some cases Blue Cross required hospitals to charge other insurers a specified percentage more than they charge Blue Cross -- as much as 30 to 40 percent more, the lawsuit says.

If you’re a not a Blue Cross customer, you get the short end of this stick. You’ll end up paying more in premiums because your insurer failed to negotiate such a lucrative deal first. U.S. Attorney General Christine Varney called it "pernicious."

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