Centene to offer ACA exchange coverage in all 40 Missouri counties next year

Affordable Care Act highlighted
Centene will step in to cover the "bare" spots on Missouri's ACA exchange next year. (Getty/Ellenmck)

Centene said Friday that it will offer an Affordable Care Act exchange plan in all 40 of Missouri's counties in 2018, including the “bare” counties that would otherwise have no on-exchange insurers.

The company, which is based in St. Louis, earlier this month revealed that it planned to expand its Affordable Care Act exchange footprint in Missouri, Nevada and Kansas, though at the time it didn't indicate which counties it would cover. 

"We strive to be a responsible partner with the state and are committed to working closely with regulators and policymakers to collaborate on actions that stabilize the market and offer affordable coverage options," Michael Neidorff, the company's CEO, said in an announcement.

As of March 2017, Centene’s exchange membership was 1.2 million, a year-over-year increase of 500,000 members. 

Following Centene's announcement, 36 counties in Ohio, Indiana and Nevada at still at risk of having no insurer in 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That's a much lower number of bare counties than was the was earlier this week, after Anthem announced that it would exit all but three counties in Nevada, leaving 14 counties in the state vulnerable to having no exchange insurer next year and 61 counties total across the country.

Centene is not the only insurer to step in to cover potential bare spots on the exchanges. Earlier this month, Medica filed preliminary plans to offer coverage in Iowa, where it was mulling an exit after Aetna and Wellmark's pullouts left it as the only exchange insurer standing. And Premera Blue Cross agreed to offer plans in one of the two Washington counties from which it initially planned to exit next year.