Shifting the balance of power between health providers and insurers

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For decades, the balance of power between health care providers and insurance companies has tipped decidedly in favor of insurers—but Zuckerman Spaeder partner D. Brian Hufford has led a 20-year effort to bring clarity to U.S. health care law—and give providers and their patients powerful new legal tools for challenging abusive industry practices.

At its core, Brian has always sought to force insurance companies to explain, and be held accountable for, the decisions they make. This includes providing transparency with respect to the secretive internal rules and procedures that drive so many decisions affecting the livelihoods of doctors and the health of patients. 

A personal and professional crusade

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Brian launched his practice after a frustrating personal experience, in which his insurance company refused to answer a simple question about why it failed to pay $250 in a doctor’s bill for his son’s medical visit. 

The insurer’s decision to refuse to reimburse Brian—and worse, its refusal to even explain its decision—led directly to litigation that resulted in insurers paying out two of the largest healthcare-related recoveries in U.S history. Suing under the powerful law governing employee benefit plans, the Employee Retirement and Security Act (ERISA), Brian obtained a $350 million settlement with United Healthcare in 2010, which followed on the footsteps of a $250 million settlement with Health Net in 2008.

A growing movement

Brian and the Zuckerman Spaeder team, which is also led by partner Jason Cowart and includes more than a dozen attorneys across the firm’s offices, have built a growing movement over the last several years. Beginning with victories in the Second and Third Circuits, which vindicated Brian’s legal theories and gave plaintiffs standing under ERISA, the team has built momentum in its efforts.

In 2016, Zuckerman Spaeder secured a $33 million settlement from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield on behalf of chiropractors in New Jersey. In addition, Zuckerman Spaeder has filed class actions and obtained class certifications in New York, Connecticut, and California. For his work on behalf of providers and patients, Brian has been recognized as a Health Law MVP two years in a row by Law360 and has been recognized as a “Trailblazer” in plaintiff’s representation by The National Law Journal.

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Zuckerman Spaeder is proud to support health care providers and patients in their pursuit for coverage, for transparency, and for equity in the treatment of claims. What began as an ERISA-based approach to creating transparency in the health insurance industry has broadened to pursue mental health parity for patients and providers under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.