Centene to cover all 14 of Nevada's 'bare' counties

Thanks to Centene, there are now just two counties nationwide that are projected to have no Affordable Care Act exchange insurer available in 2018.

Nevada was poised to have 14 “bare” counties next year following Anthem’s decision to exit the state’s individual marketplace. But SilverSummit, Centene’s Nevada plan, will now step in to fill that coverage gap, Gov. Brian Sandoval announced Tuesday.

"Today’s announcement will ensure that more than 8,000 Nevadans will have the ability to exercise their option to utilize Nevada’s online marketplace and secure coverage for their families,” he said.

With Centene’s move, only Menominee County in Wisconsin and Paulding County in Ohio are set to be without any on-exchange options next year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That number still could change, however, as insurers have until Sept. 27 to sign final contracts to participate in the exchanges next year.

This is not the first time that Centene has come to the rescue to erase coverage gaps on the ACA exchanges. In late June, the insurer said it would offer coverage in all 40 of Missouri's counties in 2018, including those that would otherwise have been bare.

Centene, which recently credited its individual market business for its strong second-quarter earnings report, has remained bullish on the ACA exchanges even as other major carriers retreat. 

RELATED: As other insurers exit, Centene is set to expand its presence on ACA exchanges

A few other insurers also have stepped up to cover bare spots on the exchanges. Earlier this month, five different carriers announced that they would cover all but one of Ohio’s 20 bare counties. And in June, Premera Blue Cross and Medica agreed to fill in some of the coverage gaps on the exchanges in Iowa and Washington state, respectively.

Insurers have made it clear, however, that there could be even more exchange exits if the Trump administration either halts funding for cost-sharing reduction payments or refuses to offer clarity about their fate. And if that happens, there may not be enough carriers willing to fill in the resulting coverage gaps.

Editor's note: This article has been updated.