An announcement by Centene Corp. on Friday means that every county in Missouri will have at least one insurer next year on the exchange established by Obamacare.
The company said in a news release that it will make plans for individuals available in 40 Missouri counties over the exchange established by the Affordable Care Act.
Without Centene, 25 counties in the state faced the possibility that no insurer would have offered health coverage policies for people who were either ineligible for Medicaid or Medicare or who could not buy coverage through an employer. The vast majority of people buying insurance on the exchanges are eligible for federal subsidies based on their incomes.
The announcement from the Clayton, Mo., health insurer came more than two weeks after the company pledged to expand in the state while other players pulled out of the markets or proposed premiums so high they might not have been eligible to sell policies in Missouri.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is walking away from the state’s individual insurance marketplace in 2018. That move threatened to leave more than two dozen counties without coverage options for people looking to buy individual policies.
Centene, which covers 1.2 million customers through the exchanges, will market its Missouri insurance policies under the Ambetter name. Among the counties where it will sell on the exchanges are Jackson, Clay, Platte, Cass and Johnson. It will also cover dozens of rural areas where insurance companies are less eager to operate.
“We strive to be a responsible partner with the state and are committed to working closely with regulators and policymakers to collaborate on actions that stabilize the market and offer affordable coverage options,” Michael F. Neidorff, the chairman, president and CEO of Centene, said in the company’s release.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City’s withdrawal from the exchanges had left Kansas City’s core counties with just one insurer and raised fears that 25 counties, mostly in the northwest part of the state, would have none. Now, counties such as Atchison, DeKalb, Clinton, Davies, Buchanan and others will at least have the Centene option.
Blue KC cited $100 million in losses on the exchange and uncertainty surrounding congressional efforts to dump and replace, or reform, Obamacare. Those efforts have slowed in the Senate, but could see a vote after the July Fourth congressional recess.