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

Three weeks after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City said it will pull out of the Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018, Centene Corp. says it plans to offer coverage through the exchange in Missouri and Kansas.

The St. Louis-based insurer 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 KC, which will affect 67,000 people, 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 .

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Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long… Dan has been a two-time finalist in The Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and has won multiple regional awards for his legal and health care coverage. Dan doesn't have any hobbies as such, but devours one to three books a week, assiduously works The New York Times Crossword puzzle Thursdays through Sundays and, for physical exercise, tries to get in a couple of rounds of racquetball per week.