Centene to stay on ACA exchanges; WellCare grows Medicaid membership


finance earnings

Unlike some of the other major for-profit health insurers, Centene has no plans to consider exiting the Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2018.

“I’m not backing off at all,” CEO Michael Neidorff said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call Tuesday. In recent discussions with the company’s board members, he said, “everybody is of one mind; you maintain business as usual.”

Recently, the CEOs of Anthem and Cigna both indicated they are still deciding whether to participate on the exchanges in 2018. Aetna, meanwhile, does not plan to re-enter any markets in 2018 after pulling out of many in 2017.

As of Dec. 31, Centene served about 540,000 exchange members, in line with its expectations, and it anticipates having a little more than 1 million paid members in 2017. Indications are that the demographics of these members will be consistent with years past, with 90% of them subsidy-eligible and most on silver-tier plans, Neidorff said.

While Centene is folding an “extra level of conservativism” into its expectations for its exchange products to guard against any uncertainty, it continues to expect that line of business to be profitable this year, he added.

Another ACA provision, Medicaid expansion, has also proved profitable for Centene. At the end of 2016, it had 1,080,500 members in Medicaid expansion programs in 10 states, compared to 449,000 members at the end of 2015, according to the company’s earnings statement.


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