A group of hospital anesthesiologists sued Aetna Life and Casualty Insurance Co. Monday alleging that Aetna threatened to get them fired if they didn’t agree to give up final say on patient care.
The federal court suit says that when the doctors attempted to negotiate changes in their agreements with Aetna’s health maintenance organization, Aetna threatened to stop doing business with the hospitals where the anesthesiologists worked, thus putting their jobs in jeopardy.
The doctors claim the practice violates antitrust laws and is detrimental to the care of patients in Aetna’s New York HMO.
Health maintenance organizations charge a flat fee for comprehensive health services. They restrain costs by limiting patients’ choice of doctors, hospitals and drugs and closely scrutinizing treatment.