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Humana Used Obamacare as Club Against Policyholders, Class Claims

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) - A federal class action claims Humana jacked up its health insurance premiums to coincide with Obamacare, while failing to give policy holders a reasonable way to cancel policies.

Lead plaintiff Daniel L. Doyle sued Kentucky-based Humana on Tuesday.

Doyle says he received a letter from Humana in August stating that his policy would be canceled on Dec. 31, 2013 and replaced with a new one, to coincide with the Affordable Health Care Act.

The premium for the new policy would be $395.97 a month, significantly (73%) higher than the $229.30 a month Doyle had been paying.

Doyle says he received another letter on Oct. 24, 2013 with clarification to the August letter. He then found a better policy with another provider and wanted to cancel his policy with Humana.

"On or about November 20, 2013, Mr. Doyle was notified that he had new insurance coverage with Blue Cross Blue Shield beginning December 1, 2013," the complaint states.

"Plaintiff then immediately attempted to contact Humana to cancel his policy but was unable to reach anyone who could assist him to cancel.

"Plaintiff again tried to cancel two to three days later. He again was unable to reach anyone at Humana who could assist him in cancelling his policy.

"On numerous occasions, Mr. Doyle unsuccessfully attempted to cancel his policy by calling the toll-free number listed in the October 24, 2013 letter. Whenever Mr. Doyle called the toll-free number, he encountered an automated call system that would not enable him to speak to a person.

"Frustrated with the significant hold times and inability to speak with a human being, Mr. Doyle contacted his Blue Cross representative, who provided a fax number for Humana which he was unable to locate on Humana's website.

"On or about November 25, 2013, Mr. Doyle sent a facsimile to Humana providing Human with written cancellation of his policy.

"Humana refused to respond to Mr. Doyle's written cancellation request.

"On or about January 7, 2014, Mr. Doyle sent a letter to Humana enclosing his November 25, 2013 cancellation request. The letter also demanded that Humana stop deducting the premium from Mr. Doyle's checking account and return money taken by Humana after Mr. Doyle's cancellation request.

"Humana refused to respond to Mr. Doyle's January 7, 2014 letter.

"Plaintiff continued his attempts to call Humana several more times. On or about January 10, 2014, plaintiff was, for the first time, able to speak with an individual after waiting for approximately 20 minutes. But after getting through to a representative, the representative informed plaintiff that the representative did not have the authority to cancel plaintiff's policy."

The class consists of all Humana policyholders in the United States who have been billed for insurance premiums on policies which were canceled by Humana on or before Dec. 31, 2013 and/or after the class member tried to cancel the policy.

Doyle seeks class certification, wants Humana enjoined from continuing its practices, disgorgement of profits from the scheme and actual and punitive damages for violations of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act.

He is represented by Eric L. Dirks with Williams Dirks.

Humana is one of the largest health insurers in the country, with more than $13 billion in revenue in 2013, according to the lawsuit.

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