- Centene is broadening its footprint in the Affordable Care Act exchanges, announcing Friday it will sell marketplace plans in 400 new counties in 13 states where it already offers plans in 2021, pending regulatory approval.
- Centene didn't name the 13 targeted states. But the St. Louis-based payer is also pushing into two new states — New Mexico and Michigan — next year, bringing the reach of its marketplace plans to a total of 22 states.
- Centene, which currently covers about 2.2 million people in exchange plans, is currently the largest provider of plans in the ACA marketplace.
Centene is again expanding its reach in the ACA marketplace. It's a business line that has grown in importance for the insurer, whose core book of business is contracting with states to care for Medicaid beneficiaries.
Centene covers about 8.6 million Medicaid members across the country, nearly four times larger than its marketplace enrollees. The payer's strategy appears to be offering marketplace plans in the same states in which it has Medicaid managed care contracts. That way, when members churn off Medicaid, they may opt for a subsidized health plan with Centene that uses the same provider networks and infrastructure.
With Centene's new push into New Mexico and Michigan, it takes on competitors Molina and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which command the largest share of exchange members in those two states, according to 2018 market share data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Just last year, Centene increased its footprint by forging into four new states — Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee — in addition to upping its availability in six existing markets.
As the country sees record job losses, it's expected that enrollment will grow in exchange and Medicaid plans as people lose their employer-sponsored coverage. Other payers are similarly swelling their exchange offerings as in a bid to capitalize on the trend, with Connecticut-based Cigna adding 79 new counties to its individual marketplace footprint for next year, growing its customer reach by more than 50%.
So far insurers have fared well during the pandemic, unlike their provider counterparts. As people put off care due to fear or mandated shutdowns, it meant insurers were paying out less. However, that could change as the country barrels into flu season while still struggling to contain the novel coronavirus.