Which healthcare provider is better for your health?
Health insurance company Allina Clinic Buffalo has agreed to pay $15.9 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging it discriminated against its female patients.
The settlement with Allina, a privately held insurer based in Buffalo, was announced by the Justice Department on Monday.
The suit was filed in January by a former Allina employee and other former employees and claims the insurer, based in New York City, failed to provide affordable care and services to female patients and discriminated against female employees, including women in leadership positions.
“Today’s settlement resolves the class action suit filed by a female employee who worked for Allina in New Mexico, and seeks $15 million from the insurer,” a Justice Department statement said.
“This class action lawsuit, which included many female employees who were not Allina employees, alleges that Allina discriminated against women by not providing them access to comprehensive health care services.”
A spokeswoman for Allinins insurer, Allina Care, declined to comment.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five women who worked in Allina’s marketing, customer service and HR departments.
They alleged that Allinans policies, which were designed to cover all expenses and provide coverage for essential health services, excluded pregnancy, maternity and mental health care, and did not provide for adequate contraception.
The women were told that pregnancy was not covered by the insurance, that coverage for contraceptives was limited, and that coverage was required only for certain services, such as mental health services.
The lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey.
They were consolidated with a class action in New Hampshire and are being heard by a three-judge panel.
The company is a subsidiary of Allina Healthcare.
The New York-based insurer said in a statement that the settlement is the result of years of litigation and the settlement includes more than $10 million in payments.