JPM 2022: Centene execs tout strong MA enrollment period—though work remains on star scores

Centene
Centene executives spoke Monday at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. (Centene)

Centene executives said Monday that the company is feeling confident about its standing in the crowded, competitive Medicare Advantage market coming out of the annual enrollment period.

The company has recorded substantial growth over the past two years following the closure of its acquisition of WellCare Health Plans in January 2020, leaders said during Centene's presentation at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Chief Financial Officer Drew Asher said during the session that it's seen nearly 50% growth in that market over the past two years.

He said that the insurer has been able to drive that growth through an expanded portfolio of offerings as well as geographic and network expansions.

"Every year that goes by, you further hone that and get the benefits of that merger," Asher said.

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The merger between Centene and WellCare Health Plans created the country's largest sponsor of government insurance, with a massive reach in the Affordable Care Act's exchanges, Medicare and Medicaid.

The company has also invested heavily in rebranding its disparate MA plans to align them across the portfolio and has brought on new ambassadors for outreach to seniors. Even prior to the merger, Centene was working on its digital distribution channels to improve the experience.

"I think that there's a lot of execution that we can feel good about," Asher said.

That said, he did note some areas of improvement in MA for Centene. For one, the company is working on improving its star ratings. More than half of its members selected a four-star or higher plan for 2022.

Asher said improvement efforts that the company is undertaking now will pay off in star rating improvements down the line. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services uses three years of data to calculate its star ratings.

"We'll be hitting our stride with what we're going to do this year," Asher said. "That will impact those star scores."