Humana Inc. has negotiated an agreement that should help it resolve litigation with 700,000 doctors.[@@]

Humana, Louisville, Ky., is a managed care company that provides or administers health coverage for 7 million Americans.

In the late 1990s, lawyers filed a wave of suits accusing Humana and other managed care companies of working together to lower and delay payments to doctors in unreasonable ways. The courts consolidated the litigation in Miami under U.S. District Court Judge Federico Moreno.

Even if Moreno approves the settlement agreement that Humana has negotiated, Humana may continue to face suits by doctors who have opted out of the settlement.

Humana expects to pay about $40 million to a general settlement fund for the physician plaintiffs, or about $60 per physician plaintiff, and $18 million to the plaintiffs’ lawyers. The company also has spent about $75 million on efforts to improve its relationship with physicians.