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Humana’s operations expand—and so does its rap sheet

Home health workers are set to walk away with a $17 million settlement following a class-action lawsuit against their employer.

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a glimpse of what Humana might look like as it grows in size and becomes a bigger employer. And, to be honest, we’re a little worried.

We recently noted that Humana has taken steps to rebrand and expand its business, bringing its primary care, pharmacy, and in-home care services under a newly named umbrella company similar to United’s Optum. But recently, employees in one of these branches have revolted. A class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of home health workers employed by Humana and its health-services arm. The workers were fighting for overtime pay dating back to 2015 for working more than 40 hours a week. Their suit accuses Humana of violating the federal Fair Labor and Standards Act and seeks compensation for unpaid hours worked during 24-hour live-in shifts or 8–12-hour in-home shifts. Humana has agreed to pay a $17 million settlement, which is now subject to court approval.

The current state of affairs brings to mind past litigation against Humana, such as lawsuits accusing the company of submitting false claims to Medicare, or claiming that the insurer denied or underpaid for services rendered to Medicare Advantage patients. This latest suit, however, is a new twist, since it suggests that Humana isn’t just taking advantage of providers and patients. It’s also giving its own workers the same kind of shabby treatment.

This doesn’t bode well for other groups employed by Humana—for example, the increasing number of physician groups being acquired by the insurer and thus becoming its employees.

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