Centene aims to expand presence in 10 ACA markets in 2020

Centene announced plans to expand its ACA presence to another 10 states, bringing the total number of states it will offer plans in to 30.

Insurer Centene announced it will expand the number of plans it offers on the Affordable Care Act exchanges in 10 states. 

The expansion announced Monday comes as Centene seeks to acquire WellCare, its biggest rival on the exchanges. The insurer overall offers plans in 20 states.

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Centene, which serves nearly 2 million ACA exchange customers, said on Monday it has started to get the regulatory approvals needed for the targeted states. The insurer wants to expand its plan offerings in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

“Centene takes pride in being the country's largest provider of health insurance marketplace plans,” President and CEO Michael Nierdorff said in a statement.

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Centene has been a large player in the exchanges since they went online in 2014.

The insurer posted a 65% increase in profits in the second quarter of this year and reported earnings of $495 million for the quarter.

Centene is trying to acquire WellCare for $17 billion, a deal that Nierdorff has told investors is expected to close in the first half of 2020 but could be earlier. WellCare is another major provider of ACA individual market plans.

The proposed merger has caught the ire of the hospital industry worried about insurer consolidation.

The American Hospital Association called for the Department of Justice to “fully investigate” Centene and WellCare to ensure the deal doesn’t reduce competition for managed care and Medicare Advantage.