By Melanie Evans
Centene Corp. has agreed to enter the Affordable Care Act health-insurance exchange in 14 Nevada counties where consumers had faced no options next year, leaving two counties nationwide bare of insurers willing to sell exchange plans.
The agreement, announced by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval Tuesday, is the latest to be brokered between state officials and insurance companies in states where next year's exchange markets were at risk of being deserted. That would have left consumers unable to buy health insurance that is eligible for federal premium and cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Roughly 8,000 consumers in Nevada were at risk of losing access to health plans on the exchange after Anthem Inc. and Prominence Health Plan said in June they would exit markets in 14 counties. Insurers can hold off on final decisions to participate in exchanges until late September, but many have exited markets, citing volatility and prolonged uncertainty about the White House's support for the markets.
The Trump administration hasn't said whether it will continue subsidies that help pay for low-income consumers' out-of-pocket costs.
St. Louis-based Centene's entry into those counties will ensure consumers "have the ability to exercise their option to utilize Nevada's online marketplace and secure coverage for their families," Mr. Sandoval said in a statement announcing the news.
Expanded coverage in Nevada leaves only two counties -- Menominee County, in Wisconsin, and Paulding County, in Ohio, potentially without insurers in ACA exchanges, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Centene's managed-care subsidiary, SilverSummit Healthplan, will offer plans in exchange markets across all 17 Nevada counties as part of the agreement. "We strive to be a responsible partner with the state and are committed to working closely with regulators and policy makers to be able to offer affordable coverage options for Nevada residents," Garrett Leaf, president and CEO of SilverSummit, said in a statement.
Last month, Ohio's insurance regulator said Centene Corp. and four other insurers would expand into counties where consumers were at risk for no options.