Health insurance company settlement - is it legit?
June 28, 2022 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Received a relatively large settlement from a class action suit involving a health insurance company. Please help me determine if this is legit or some kind of scam.

Here is an image of the check stub.

My causes for concern :
* The amount is a lot more than I would expect — a little over $500. In my experience, settlements from class-action suits are usually pretty insignificant
* I've never been sent a check from a class-action suit. Usually I'll just get a letter or email, and then I'll forget about it because the amount of money is so small it's not worth the effort
* The check has an "expiration" on it — it says "VOID AFTER September 2, 2022". Is this normal? September 2, 2022 is only a couple months away

I did look up the cases mentioned in the check stub (doe-smith vs unitedhealth group 17-cv-4160 and 21-cv-02791, james vs unitedhealth group 21-cv-4533, and walsh vs united behavioral health 21-cv-4519) — and they all do look legitimate.

If this is legit, are there any downsides to cashing the check? Am I waiving any rights or anything like that? Or has that ship done sailed, and I should just cash the check already?

Thanks for taking a look at this.
posted by panama joe to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
this isn't an answer - but you might consider seeking info on:
posted by mrmarley at 8:58 AM on June 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

I can't speak to this particular class-action suit, but my two children and I recently received $100 each because Partners Health didn't properly disclose its use of cookies on its website.

It is not surprising to me that they put a deadline on cashing the check. There could be any number of legit reasons for this, ranging from a requirement that they reallocate the funds to their desire to wind-down the operations of the lawsuit.

Sure, poke around a little more and read the fine print, but I would tend to think this is legit.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 9:02 AM on June 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

I don't know about your specific case, but I've gotten class action settlement checks that were not insignificant (e.g., the settlement for Facebook [allegedly?] violating the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act was about $400/person), and I have also noticed that they often have expiration dates that seem a little tight. (September 2 is plausibly 90 days from when it was mailed; that doesn't seem too crazy.)
posted by likedoomsday at 9:03 AM on June 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I also got the Partners payout and it came in the form of a Venmo payment called "MA Cookies Settlement," so just reinforcing that class action suits can yield actual money while also looking somewhat scammy.

You may have given up a right to sue the company separately by not opting out of the class action suit earlier, but I don't think there's any harm in depositing the check now. Check scams generally involve someone asking you to pay them back via another method because they overpaid you. If you're concerned about that, 1) don't pay anyone back if they say they overpaid you, tell them to take it up with the bank and 2) don't use the money right away, on the off chance that it is a bad check. If all you do is deposit the check, the worst thing that can happen is the check turns out to be bad and the money goes away again in the next few weeks. (edited to add: I guess some banks might charge you for depositing a bad check)
posted by mskyle at 9:08 AM on June 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A little research turned up the websites referenced in the letter and it does all look legit. The most I've gotten in a class action settlement is $79, but it was not about health insurance/care.

Typically the agencies governing insurance do not fuck about. They fine companies all the time and they're not slaps on the wrist.

The ship has more or less sailed on pursuing individual action, but hey, on the bright side, here's $500 you weren't expecting. Probably not really enough to cover whatever damage was done to you, but not nothing, either...
posted by BeReasonable at 9:26 AM on June 28, 2022

We got around $900 in the Shutterfly settlement, so those amounts happen, even if it seems odd.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:27 AM on June 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The check has an "expiration" on it — it says "VOID AFTER September 2, 2022". Is this normal? September 2, 2022 is only a couple months away

90 days is a very typical time frame for checks to be valid. Many banks default to 180 days but businesses don't want money pending for that long and so they make it 90 days. Some banks will cash "old" checks but others won't.
posted by soelo at 9:44 AM on June 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Sounds normal for a class action involving something you’ve paid a lot of money for, or that has strict laws around it.

90 days is normal. You were probably auto-enrolled in the class because you didn’t opt out re an earlier communication, which is legal. They had your information from the insurer.
posted by michaelh at 9:50 AM on June 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

I received $100 from the Partners Healthcare case "MA Cookie Settlement" and it looked pretty much just like that, including the expiration date. Unlike you, I had filled out some forms to substantiate my claim, so I was expecting it. But you could definitely have been enrolled in the case without anything on your part.

And by the time you get a check the deadline for objecting has usually long passed. I'd just cash it.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:13 AM on June 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: (Not your lawyer.) Appears to be a real case, with a real settlement website.

The check expiration date is short because they need to distribute all the funds within a certain time period. Some people will never get their checks, or never cash them, so in big cases there will be a second round of distribution if enough is left over.

And, as epanalepsis says, if you're getting a check, any deadline to either exclude yourself from the settlement or object to it will be long gone.
posted by praemunire at 10:30 AM on June 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks all. Just cashed the check. Yaaay $500!
posted by panama joe at 10:43 AM on June 28, 2022 [7 favorites]

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