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As Other Insurers Flee, Centene To Enter ACA Exchanges In Kansas And Missouri

Paul Sableman
A sign advertising in Uplands Park, Mo.

Three weeks after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Missouri said it will pull out of the Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018, leaving 67,000 to find new coverage, another insurer has stepped up, saying it plans to offer coverage through the exchange in Missouri and Kansas.

The St. Louis-based insurer Centene already has a presence in both states administering Medicaid plans, but the move to sell individual and small group health plans is new.

It’s not clear, however, whether Centene will offer those plans in the areas vacated by Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas City, which will leave 25 Missouri counties without any insurer and other counties in the Kansas City area with just one.

Centene said in a news release that as of March 31, it offered plans to 1.2 million exchange members elsewhere in the United States. It said 90 percent were eligible for government subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

"Centene recognizes there is uncertainty of new healthcare legislation, but we are well positioned to continue providing accessible, high quality and culturally-sensitive healthcare services to our members,” Michael F. Neidorff, chairman, president and CEO of Centene, said in a statement.

Centene’s move comes as other insurers flee the individual and small-group markets, unnerved by talk of repeal of Obamacare and moves by the Trump administration to undercut some of the healthcare law’s key provisions.

Anthem last week said it would exit the Obamacare exchange in Ohio. There’s concern it will exit Missouri as well, but it has yet to announce such plans.

In addition to Missouri and Kansas, Centene said it will also offer coverage in 2018 in Nevada and expand its offerings in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Texas and Washington.

Dan Margolies is KCUR's health editor. You can reach him on twitter@DanMargolies

This story was originally published by Heartland Health Monitor, a reporting collaboration focused on health issues and their impact in Missouri and Kansas.