(CN) – The Justice Department said Thursday that its has settled a 2016 lawsuit against Atrium Health in which it accused the health care giant of colluding with insurers to boost is profits through higher prices.
In its lawsuit, the Justice Department claim Atrium, formerly Carolinas HealthCare System, entered into agreements in which insurers agreed not to incentivize patients to find more affordable care from competitors in the Charlotte, North Carolina market.
In agreeing to the settlement, Atrium Health did not admit any wrongdoing. It was also not required to pay any penalties or fines.
“I think the settlement will have a big impact for those in the Charlotte area,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein told Courthouse News. “It will lower the cost of health care and increase price transparency.” Stein said. “It ensures that people will have the best quality at the most comparable price.
“This is a huge victory for consumers.”
The proposed agreement does prohibit Atrium from entering contracts with insurance companies that would prevent or punish insurance companies from sharing price details with patients.
The contracts can also no longer require Atrium to be in the highest tier of plans, even if those plans don’t meet price or other health care value criteria.
In Charlotte, Atrium is one of two top health care providers, alongside Novant Health.
“With health care costs rising, vigilant antitrust enforcement is an essential tool for protecting consumers,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim. “By eliminating restrictions that curb comparison shopping and interfere with competition among healthcare providers, today’s resolution of our antitrust action allows consumers in the Charlotte area to benefit from competition when making critically important health care choices.”
Atrium Health declined to comment on the settlement.