2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Arizona: Never Mind... Turns out AZ is just swapping out Cigna for Centene.

Yesterday I reported that after the big scare about Pinal County, Arizona possibly having no carriers on the exchange, and the rest of the state only having one available, things were looking up as 1) Blue Cross Blue Shield agreed to jump back into Pinal after all, followed by 2) Centene also expanding coverage into a couple of counties, meaning 2 carriers for most of the population.

Unfortunately, as M E notes in the comments:

This isn't really the good news you were hoping for. With Centene in, Cigna is out.

Maricopa County residents could have a new health insurer on the Affordable Care Act exchange next year, but it might not be the insurer that many local observers thought it would be.

Missouri-based Centene Corp. is seeking regulatory approval to sell ACA marketplace health insurance in Maricopa and Pima counties next year. Cigna would join the effort as a medical provider for Centene's insurance plans in Maricopa County, but Cigna now says that it doesn't expect to offer its own marketplace insurance in Maricopa County.

Centene said it wants to sell health-maintenance organization plans under the "Ambetter" brand in Maricopa and Pima counties next year.

The latest news continues the revolving door of health insurers in Arizona's marketplace. Maricopa County residents had a robust selection of eight companies to shop from and compare this year. More than 126,000 consumers picked a plan as of Feb. 1.

It appears every Arizona county except Pima County will have just a single health-insurance carrier in the ACA market next year. Cigna was the only remaining insurer committed to Maricopa County's marketplace after seven others — including Centene's Health Net of Arizon—announced their exits from the individual-plan market in Arizona's largest county next year. With Centene's decision to offer marketplace insurance in Arizona next year, Cigna officials said the insurer no longer plans to sell individual plans next year.

OK, so we're back to just one carrier in 14 out of 15 counties, with 2 available in Pima (Centene and Blue Cross). BCBS will be the only one in Pinal, and Centene will be the only one in the other 13 counties, I believe.

In other words, it looks like as many as all 179,000 residents on the AZ exchange may end up having to switch to a new policy from a new carrier (the 126K in the article are for Maricopa County only), which is important to remember next February if HHS brags about how many people chose to shop around.