UPDATE: Some GOOD news re. 2018: Centene commits to sticking around for OE5

UPDATE: Important to note that this story broke BEFORE Molina drew a line in the sand re. the CSR issue. That could be a game changer.

via the Oregon Register-Guard:

Insurer Centene commits to shaky ACA exchanges for 2018

One health insurer is eager to dive back into the Affordable Care Act’s troubled insurance exchanges next year, even as competitors waver and President Trump tweets doom about the law’s future.

Centene Corp. said Tuesday that its exchange enrollment has swelled 74 percent since last year, up to nearly 1.2 million people.

This comes as competitors like Aetna back away from these public marketplaces after absorbing steep losses, and others like the Blue Cross-Blue Shield carrier Anthem await signs of stability before committing to 2018. Trump has warned repeatedly about the collapse of the law and its exchanges, which provide coverage for around 12 million people.

...Despite all this, Centene Chairman and CEO Michael Neidorff said Tuesday during a conference call to discuss the company’s first-quarter results that he sees “nothing out there” that will change his company’s participation next year.

“We have the agility and the ability to adjust,” he said.

Centene sells coverage under its Ambetter brand on exchanges in 12 states. That includes key markets like Florida, Texas and Ohio.

What makes it more bullish than its competitors on these still unstable markets? Analysts say Centene sticks to customers it knows. The insurer specializes in managing the state and federally funded Medicaid program for the poor. On the exchanges, it targets low-income customers in markets where it has already formed networks of providers for its Medicaid business.

...Centene has added some new exchange business through its acquisition of fellow insurer Health Net, said Stifel health insurance analyst Thomas Carroll.

I don't know much about Centene; maybe they stink, maybe they're awesome, but this is welcome news regardless. ~13% net enrollment attrition nationally as of the end of the 3rd quarter means that national exchange enrollment is likely around 10.6 million today. If so, that means that Centene holds over 11% of total exchange enrollment across 12 states, so them committing to re-upping is a pretty big deal.